Red Sprites (Figures 2 and 3), together with Elves and Blue Jets, belong to the category of upper-atmospheric transient luminous events.
Numerous images have also been obtained from aircraft of so-called Blue Jets (Wescott et al.
Christ the King Blue Jets
(from left): Ryan Strain, Luke McNulty, Macauley Toner, Liam McManaman, Dan McGonaghan, Edward O'Connor, Eoin Quinn.; HEAD GIRL ...
being joined by a family of upward electrical discharges, including blue jets, emerging directly from thunderstorm tops."
Blue jets, a recent discovery by scientists, are atmospheric discharges which occur much higher in the Earth's atmosphere than normal lightning.
Low-light television cameras in the hands of atmospheric researchers can now record sprites and blue jets at night from hundreds of miles away.
If the cameras see a sprite or blue jet, Benbrook can then correlate the electromagnetic measurements made at the same time by the balloon-borne instruments with theoretical models that try to predict how the fields should behave at the balloon's location relative to the discharge.
Sprites, elves, and blue jets
are all forms of lightning.
Only in the last few years have scientists discovered these red sprites and much rarer flares, called blue jets (SN: 12/17/94, p.405).
Red sprites, blue jets, and elves (which may be red) appear over the parts of a thunderstorm that produce the most powerful cloud-to-ground lightning.
"Given the difference between the midlatitudes and the equatorial storms, we wanted to know if the equatorial storms are also the globally dominant source of sprites and blue jets," says Sentman.
In the six flights out of Lima, Peru, the scientists detected 20 sprites but saw no blue jets. They reason that during their flights, the storms never reached the intensity of the giant thunderstorms they saw over the United States.
At a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco last week, researchers unveiled theories to explain the phenomena, dubbed red sprites and blue jets