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Mysterious Jets of Upside-Down Lightning Are Real, And We Just Got Our Best Look Yet



One of the most powerful and fascinating forces of nature is born of storms: great cracks of light that part the sky, flicking vast amounts of electricity into the surrounding atmosphere, cracking into the ground whenever it reaches it.

Or that’s how we typically think of lightning.

But the phenomenon has another manifestation, only relatively recently revealed: sometimes, it erupts upwards from the clouds, lashing into the stratosphere in a tremendous blue ‘jet’ of electricity.

Little is known about this phenomenon; it’s unpredictable and occurs beyond the sight of most people, above a layer of storm clouds.

But, thanks to a citizen scientist, one such giant jet was recorded above the clouds during a storm in Oklahoma in 2018 – and, with data collected by other instruments, scientists have been able to study it in detail in three dimensions.

The result gives us new details on this strange phenomenon, which should contribute to a better understanding of how and why it happens.

“We were able to map this gigantic jet in three dimensions with really high-quality data,” said physicist and engineer Levi Boggs of the Georgia Tech Research Institute.

“We were able to see very high frequency (VHF) sources above the cloud top, which had not been seen before with this level of detail. Using satellite and radar data, we were able to learn where the very hot leader portion of the discharge was located above the cloud.”

Captured on a low-light Watec camera on the night of 14 May 2018, the lightning jet was enormous, a huge discharge that was clearly visible in the footage captured.

When Boggs learnt of the footage, he immediately went looking for data from other instruments that may have captured the event. And there was a bonanza.

The Watec video of the lightning jet. (Kevin Palivec)

The jet was in range of and had been recorded by a nearby VHF lightning mapping system called the Lightning Mapping Array, two NCEI Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) locations, and instruments on NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES).

This wealth of data meant that Boggs and his colleagues were able to conduct an in-depth analysis reconstructing the complexities of the bolt.

“The fact that the gigantic jet was detected by several systems, including the Lightning Mapping Array and two geostationary optical lightning instruments, was a unique event and gives us a lot more information on gigantic jets,” said physicist and engineer Doug Mach of the Universities Space Research Association (USRA).

“More importantly, this is probably the first time that a gigantic jet has been three-dimensionally mapped above the clouds with the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) instrument set.”

The data revealed that the jet was, truly, a colossus. It propagated from clouds with a maximum altitude of about 8 kilometers (5 miles) to altitudes around ten times that height – nearly as far as the Kármán line, where Earth’s atmosphere ends and outer space begins. 

As it did so, it transported around 300 coulombs of electrical charge into the upper atmosphere; a typical cloud-to-cloud or cloud-to-ground lightning bolt only transports around 5 coulombs.

The team was also able to ascertain that the leaders – the channels of ionized air along which the lightning discharge can be seen – were extremely hot, over 4,700 degrees Celsius (8,500 Fahrenheit). Meanwhile, the smaller plasma streamers were significantly cooler, around 200 degrees Celsius (400 Fahrenheit).

These streamers started propagating just above the cloud top, the team found, traveling to the lower ionosphere, at an altitude of around 80 kilometers. This creates an electrical connection between the cloud tops and the ionosphere, transferring a negative charge at a rate of thousands of amperes per second.

The different instruments revealed that the optical component of the jet remained relatively close to the cloud top, at an altitude of 15 to 20 kilometers. The VHF emission, however, was detected much higher, at altitudes of 22 to 45 kilometers.

“The VHF and optical signals definitively confirmed what researchers had suspected but not yet proven, that the VHF radio from lightning is emitted by small structures called streamers that are at the very tip of the developing lightning, while the strongest electric current flows significantly behind this tip in an electrically conducting channel called a leader,” said engineer Steve Cummer of Duke University.

However, a lot of questions yet remain. It’s still unclear why jets shoot upwards when most lightning is directed down, or sideways. The researchers believe that there may be something blocking the lightning from traveling downwards or towards other clouds.

Although the Oklahoma storm was not the usual type associated with jets, as it occurred at high latitudes, rather than the tropics, and occurred at an unusual time of year, it could yield a clue here. Very little downward lightning was observed before the release of the giant jet.

“For whatever reason, there is usually a suppression of cloud-to-ground discharges,” Boggs explained.

“There is a buildup of negative charge, and then we think that the conditions in the storm top weaken the uppermost charge layer, which is usually positive. In the absence of the lightning discharges we normally see, the gigantic jet may relieve the buildup of excess negative charge in the cloud.”

Let’s hope future jets contain the answers.

The research has been published in Science Advances.

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“Alien bases” may be hiding off the coast of Alaska, researchers say




An organization of civilian volunteers dedicated to the study of
unidentified flying objects (UFOs) has issued a statement based on
decades of studying eyewitness reports. According to Mutual UFO Network,
“alien bases” may be hiding off the coast of Alaska, reports

say the deep waters in this region may hold something surprising. After
analyzing reports from the ship’s crew from 1945, they hypothesized
that alien objects could be lurking underwater, off the coast of the

Alleged sightings of alien spacecraft nearly 80 years ago
have become a key point in research. Members of the organization believe
that UFOs move over water and may have “bases.”

allege crew members on a U.S. Army transporter ship sailing past Island
Adak saw a massive UFO sized 150 to 200 feet emerge from the water.
Although these reports are nowhere to be found, UFO enthusiasts believe
the unidentified flying vehicles likely were used to commute to
different supposed alien bases hiding in the deep waters.

the “secret reports” of the sailors aren’t available, investigators
have taken it upon themselves to unravel the mystery surrounding the
unidentified flying objects and they believe the ocean has alien bases
that humans aren’t aware of.

Enthusiasts claim that UFOs may be
using “underwater networks” or wormholes as superhighways to travel
between points in the universe. UFO researcher Johnny Enoch added that
such objects could serve as a vehicle for aliens.

There are also
theories that other places on Earth could serve as bases for alien life.
A mountain in Seoul, South Korea is believed to be hiding a UFO,
according to Dr. Steven Greer.

An episode of the series “The
Alaska Triangle” features satellite imagery that claims to show one of
the “alien bases” in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.

another researcher featured in the program showed markings from the sea
bed that she claimed could have been roadways for aliens.

the mysteries of the ocean remain unsolved, researchers continue their
search, trying to unravel the mystery of what may be hiding in the
depths of the waters off the coast of Alaska.

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Enormous City-Size Comet Racing Towards Earth Grows ‘Devil Horns’ After Massive Eruption




A volcanic comet the size of a mid-sized US city has
violently exploded for the second time in four months as it continues
racing toward the earth. And following the massive eruption, the cloud
of ice and gas sprouted what looked like a pair of gigantic devil horns.

The city-sized comet, named 12P/Pons-Brooks, is a cryovolcanic — or
cold volcano — comet. It has a solid nucleus, with an estimated diameter
of 18.6 miles, and is filled with a mix of ice, dust and gas known as
cryomagma. The nucleus is surrounded by a fuzzy cloud of gas called a
coma, which leaks out of the comet’s interior.

When solar radiation heats the comet’s insides, the pressure builds up
and the comet violently explodes, ejaculating its ice-cold innards into
space through seeping cracks in the nucleus’s shell.

Live Science report:
On Oct. 5, astronomers detected a large outburst from 12P, after the
comet became dozens of times brighter due to the extra light reflecting
from its expanded coma, according to the British Astronomical Association (BAA), which has been closely monitoring the comet 

Over the next few days, the comet’s coma expanded further and developed its “peculiar horns,”
reported. Some experts joked that the irregular shape of the coma also
makes the comet look like a science fiction spaceship, such as the
Millennium Falcon from Star Wars.

The unusual shape of the comet’s coma is likely due to an irregularity in the shape of 12P’s nucleus, Richard Miles, a BAA astronomer, told Live Science after the comet’s previous eruption.
The outflowing gas is likely being partially obstructed by a notch
sticking out on the nucleus, Miles said. As the gas continues to expand
away from the comet, the irregularity in the coma’s shape becomes more
defined and noticeable, he added.

12P is currently hurtling toward the inner solar system, where it
will be slingshotted around the sun on its highly elliptical 71-year
orbit around our home star — similar to the green comet Nishimura, which
pulled off a near-identical maneuver on Sept. 17

12P will reach its closest point to Earth on April 21, 2024, when it
may become visible to the naked eye before being catapulted back toward
the outer solar system. It will not return until 2095.

This is the second time 12P has sprouted its horns this year. On July
20, astronomers witnessed the comet blow its top for the first time in
69 years (mainly due to its outbursts being less frequent and harder to
spot during the rest of its orbit). On that occasion, 12P’s coma grew to
around 143,000 miles (230,000 km), which is around 7,000 times wider
than the comet’s nucleus.

It is unclear how large the coma grew during the most recent
eruption, but there are signs the outburst was “twice as intense” as the
previous one, the BAA noted. By now, the coma has likely shrunk back to
near its normal size.

As 12P continues to race toward the sun, there is a high probability
that we will witness several more major eruptions. It is possible that
those eruptions will be even bigger than the most recent one as the
comet soaks up more solar radiation, according to

But 12P is not the only volcanic comet that astronomers are currently
monitoring: 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann (29P) — the most volatile volcanic
comet in the solar system — has also had several noticeable eruptions
in the last year.

In December 2022, 29P experienced its largest eruption in around 12 years, which sprayed around 1 million tons of cryomagma into space. And in April this year, for the first time ever, scientists accurately predicted one of 29P’s eruptions before it actually happened, thanks to a slight increase in the comet’s brightness in the lead-up to the icy explosion.

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