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Are the rays formed from bottom to top or from top to bottom?  See what the science says

Are the rays formed from bottom to top or from top to bottom? See what the science says

In a storm, lightning can fall to the ground or shoot up into the sky.

Photo: EPA/ANSA – Brazil

It is not an optical illusion. in a storm rays They can either fall to the ground or ascend to the sky. Researchers from the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) Atmospheric Electricity Group (ELAT) observed the formation of lightning coming from tall structures – such as towers and Lightning rod – Even the clouds.

The study, supported by the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (Fapesp) and published in the journal Scientific Reports, used high-speed cameras and video cameras – with a capture power of 100,000 frames per second – to observe the phenomenon.

How was the study conducted?

110 observed rays Rising rays (which rise into the clouds) in Pico do Jaragua, in São Paulo, and in South Dakota, in the United States, between 2011 and 2016. Pico do Jaragua is the second place with the highest number of records for rising rays in the world – about 30 to 40 in the year. It is second only to the Swiss Alps.

High-speed cameras have been able to capture phenomena imperceptible to human eyes for analysis. The time difference between a lightning bolt and its “return” to clouds Hundreds of thousandths of a second.


In addition to cameras, the scientists used electric field and luminance meters. Through them, it was possible to check that the descending rays are positive and leave a negative charge in the clouds, generating the effect of a rising ray.

Demonstration of how lightning rods work in a video by INPE scientists (Photo: Reproduction/Diego Rhamón/INPE)

Image: Canaltech

The phenomenon is explained scientifically

in Storm, the presence of charged particles accumulates in higher structures. The formation of upward rays begins with the ionization of the air near these surfaces. The ionized particles then begin to rise toward the clouds, attracting the oppositely charged particles.

As the particles approach the clouds, the electric force between them intensifies, creating an electric charge that builds up until a discharge occurs, resulting in a lightning bolt.

According to the researchers, the descending rays are more common than the ascending rays and have the same intensity. But you can rest assured that a rising beam is usually seen on structures over 70m high, with no danger of it reaching us.

Source: EditoraTerra

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