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Gamma Ray Bursts in Earth’s Atmosphere

Posted by BC on February 11th, 2010

Lightning - NOAAThe headline is correct. Gamma ray bursts have been detected in Earth’s atmosphere. They are associated with lightning, and recent discoveries have been made by NASA’s Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) and Gamma-ray Burst Monitor.

Gamma ray bursts in Earth’s atmosphere are called Terrestrial Gamma Flashes (TGFs), and are said to produce the highest natural energy blast on Earth. The flashes last for only one to two milli-seconds, but they are drawing much attention.

Monitors detected the gamma rays during lightning storms. Air travelers passing too close to the lightning strikes may be exposed to radiation equal to 400 chest X-rays. Pilots make efforts to avoid lightning because of flying troubles, so air travelers should not worry about flying.

NASA has provided graphics to help with their explanation on the TGFs.

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