Does lightning travel out into space?

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Paul Anderson

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Does lightning travel out into space?
« on: 11/12/2009 09:30:02 »
Paul Anderson  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Hi Chris and team,

Yesterday I suggested trying to collect lightning energy with satellites, but on the way to the bus stop I was wondering if lightning ever goes out from the earth, or does it only go down to earth, or across from cloud to cloud.

Have anyone got any comment on that?
 
Regards
Paul
NZ

What do you think?

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Offline Mr. Scientist

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Does lightning travel out into space?
« Reply #1 on: 11/12/2009 13:22:49 »
It could - i guess - to the original question.

Lightning is a force, and under the correct circumstances, there may be more of an attraction into space (most likely from another celestial body) to that which hits the firma. But - some may disagree.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZGcNx8nV8U

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Offline Farsight

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Does lightning travel out into space?
« Reply #2 on: 11/12/2009 14:14:45 »
It does kind of go out from the earth, Paul. Check out "sprites" at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sprite_(lightning)

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Offline yor_on

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Does lightning travel out into space?
« Reply #3 on: 12/12/2009 19:05:42 »
If I would guess I expect you can see it two ways. As I understand it lightening gets created by two poles, one in the air and one on the ground. It's their 'cooperation' that creates what we see as the flash, so in that motto I would say no.

Those celestial objects Mr S. may be thinking of I expect to be too far away. As for it going sideways? Don't know, then you would have to need something more 'grounded' than the ground itself.

Then we come to what lightening is. It's a type of electromagnetic radiation, and as such it radiates in all directions, so in that motto I would say yes.

Then we have electromagnetic 'plasmas' like 'ball lightening's' that can 'float' turn and travel in the air, but they are 'self contained' as I understands it?

As for those sprites? They are electromagnetic discharges in the air triggered by positive lightning between the thundercloud and the ground, so even though they seem to appear directed outwards at times I think of them as molecular discharges coloring the sky above those thunder clouds. But who knows?

http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2006/arch06/060322sprite.htm

And here's what Nasa think they're good for.

http://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/solarsystem/image_lightning.html
« Last Edit: 12/12/2009 23:26:38 by yor_on »
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Offline Mr. Scientist

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Does lightning travel out into space?
« Reply #4 on: 12/12/2009 19:40:01 »
If I would guess I expect you can see it two ways. As I understand it lightening gets created by two poles, one in the air and one on the ground. It's their 'cooperation' that creates what we see as the flash, so in that motto I would say no.

Those celestial objects Mr S. may be thinking of I expect to be to far away. As for it going sideways? Don't know, then you would have to need something more 'grounded' than the ground itself.

Then we come to what lightening is. It's a type of electromagnetic radiation, and as such it radiates in all directions, so in that motto I would say yes.

Then we have electromagnetic 'plasmas' like 'ball lightening's' that can 'float' turn and travel in the air, but they are 'self contained' as I understands it?

As for those sprites? They are electromagnetic discharges in the air triggered by positive lightning between the thundercloud and the ground, so even though they seem to appear directed outwards at times I think of them as molecular discharges coloring the sky above those thunder clouds. But who knows?

http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2006/arch06/060322sprite.htm

And here's what Nasa think they're good for.

http://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/solarsystem/image_lightning.html


''Those celestial objects Mr S. may be thinking of I expect to be to far away. ''

Oh yes. It's speculation but it should happen somewhere, again, under the right conditions. :)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZGcNx8nV8U

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Offline LeeE

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Does lightning travel out into space?
« Reply #5 on: 12/12/2009 22:44:29 »
A little less sloppiness please folks; lightning is neither a force nor a type of radiation.

It is an electrical discharge through air that has become conductive as a result of partial ionisation.  It's difficult to see how you could get lightning in space as there's no medium to act as a conductor.
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Offline yor_on

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Does lightning travel out into space?
« Reply #6 on: 12/12/2009 23:29:48 »
What? Lightening not a radiation, that one was new to me :)
As for ionization I agree though, but the effect is definitely electromagnetic.
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Offline LeeE

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Does lightning travel out into space?
« Reply #7 on: 14/12/2009 18:12:07 »
Lightning produces radiation, which is why you can hear it on an AM tuner, but the lightning bolt itself is not a radiation.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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Offline Mr. Scientist

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Does lightning travel out into space?
« Reply #8 on: 14/12/2009 18:32:22 »
Yeh - it's basically made of electrons :) That can quantum mechanically-radiate - it's a type of an electrical inertia - the more you speed up an electron, the more radiation it can produce, and so will try and resist such an acceleration unless acted on by some force.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZGcNx8nV8U

''God could not have had much time on His hands when he formed the Planck Lengths.''

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٩๏̯͡๏۶