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Blue flash in the atmosphere over Europe. An astronaut from the ISS took a photo of an unusual phenomenon

Blue flash in the atmosphere over Europe. An astronaut from the ISS took a photo of an unusual phenomenon 1
Photo: Upper lightning, photographed by Thomas Peske

French astronaut Thomas Peske photographed a very rare event from aboard the ISS. A glow that resembled a gigantic arc flash appeared in the cloudless sky. Therefore, there was no thunderstorm.

The photo, which was taken by slow motion, shows a blue flash, similar to the explosion of an atomic bomb but this mysterious blue light did not hurt anyone. Most people would never have seen it if it weren’t for this photo, Sciencealert reports.

UFO? It is not excluded but most likely the astronaut captured an equally mysterious object from among those whose existence became known only at the end of the last century. Elves, tigers, blue jets, giant jets, dwarves, sprites – such semi-mystical names were given to them by scientists and are ranked among the atmospheric optical phenomena (transient luminous events).

They vaguely resemble lightning. They appear where there are no thunderclouds at all – at altitudes from 50 to 100 kilometers, indicating the existence of a certain electromagnetic “life” above.

Sprites over France.
Sprites over France.

Previously, pilots regularly reported on these sprites from near space. But as Peske rightly recalled, scientists did not believe them and equated eyewitness accounts with UFO reports. Therefore, their outbreaks were considered unidentified for a long time.

“The most interesting thing about this lightning is that only a few pilots saw the phenomenon a few decades ago, and scientists weren’t sure if the lightning really existed,” Peske wrote in a comment to his photo.

Only at the beginning of this century, scientists were able to obtain images of these mysterious events and make sure that they are not dreamed of. Even though we have learned to distinguish fleeting optical phenomena one from the other from their outward appearance, the nature of these strange occureces has not been fully understood.

In this photo, it seems that Thomas Peske from the ISS managed to photograph a phenomenon called “short-lived glow”, even though the experts have not decided yet. – it looks like lightning, only it hits up in the upper atmosphere.

A giant jet over the Hawaiian Islands.
A giant jet over the Hawaiian Islands.

These short-lived glows are called upper atmospheric lightning or ionospheric lightning. They appear during a thunderstorm, but much higher in the atmosphere.

Below in the atmosphere, ordinary lightning causes “blue jets” of light. If light propagates through a negatively charged upper part of storm clouds before passing through the positive part at the bottom, lightning eventually hits upward, creating a blue glow from molecular nitrogen.

Thomas Peske, astronaut, ISS
Thomas Peske aboard the ISS. Photo: Twitter

These phenomena are difficult to photograph from Earth, because they are very high in the sky and are constantly covered by storm clouds. In addition, they last milliseconds or just a few seconds.

“It’s best to photograph these phenomena from the ISS, because the station flies over the equator, where there are more thunderstorms,” Peske ​​says. 

“This is a very rare phenomenon, and now we can observe these flashes of light aboard the ISS.”

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