Rare image of a powerful blue jet above a thunderstorm!

This Thursday, August 4, a jet blue was captured by an amateur photographer above a cloud ofthunderstorm in Texas, a very rare phenomenon to observe. First registered in 1989, the blue jets belong to the luminous transient phenomena, also called TLE, to which the red sprites or leprechauns also belong. They appear duringthunderstorms particularly intense, and can reach an altitude of up to 50 km! If they look like lightningattention, their origin is different.

Unlike lightning, which corresponds to electrical discharges between the cloud and the ground or within the cloud, the blue jets start from the cumulonimbus top and head towardsionosphere. They are made of cold plasma, their color blue being due toionization of the atoms ofnitrogen.

Contrary to what was thought until recently, they are not very rare. However, due to their location, observing them is a challenge! “It might have something to do with their blue color. L’atmosphere earth naturally diffuses the blue light, making them harder to see. Blue jets might be more common than we think,” explains Oscar van der Velde, researcher at the Lightning Research Group of the’Politecnica University of Catalunya.

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