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      Downward Terrestrial Gamma-Ray Flash Observed in a Winter Thunderstorm

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          Most cited references 34

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          Discovery of intense gamma-ray flashes of atmospheric origin.

          Detectors aboard the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory have observed an unexplained terrestrial phenomenon: brief, intense flashes of gamma rays. These flashes must originate in the atmosphere at altitudes above at least 30 kilometers in order to escape atmospheric absorption and reach the orbiting detectors. At least a dozen such events have been detected over the past 2 years. The photon spectra from the events are very hard (peaking in the high-energy portion of the spectrum) and are consistent with bremsstrahlung emission from energetic (million-electron volt) electrons. The most likely origin of these high-energy electrons, although speculative at this time, is a rare type of high-altitude electrical discharge above thunderstorm regions.
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            Runaway electron mechanism of air breakdown and preconditioning during a thunderstorm

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              Terrestrial gamma-ray flashes observed up to 20 MeV.

              Terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs) from Earth's upper atmosphere have been detected with the Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) satellite. The gamma-ray spectra typically extend up to 10 to 20 megaelectron volts (MeV); a simple bremsstrahlung model suggests that most of the electrons that produce the gamma rays have energies on the order of 20 to 40 MeV. RHESSI detects 10 to 20 TGFs per month, corresponding to approximately 50 per day globally, perhaps many more if they are beamed. Both the frequency of occurrence and maximum photon energy are more than an order of magnitude higher than previously known for these events.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                PRLTAO
                Physical Review Letters
                Phys. Rev. Lett.
                American Physical Society (APS)
                0031-9007
                1079-7114
                August 2019
                August 7 2019
                : 123
                : 6
                Article
                10.1103/PhysRevLett.123.061103
                © 2019

                https://link.aps.org/licenses/aps-default-license

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