Measuring X-rays created by lightning strikes on an aircraft in-flight

September 30, 2015

Scientists have recorded measurements of X-rays of energies up to 10 MeV caused by electrons accelerated in the intense electric fields inside a thundercloud.

The researchers, based at the Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands, the National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR), The Netherlands, and Airbus France, report their findings today, Wednesday 30th September, in the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics.

The researchers were able to mount equipment on an Airbus during test flights that took place in April 2014. These flights allowed an opportunity to further test the In-flight Lightning Strike Damage Assessment System (ILDAS) to which the researchers had previously contributed, in addition to mounting X-ray detectors within the cabin.

The study reports on the findings of four lightning strikes on the aircraft, three initiated by the aircraft and one 'aircraft intercepted' strike.

"These four lightning strikes represent all of the effects we were looking at, so they provided us with excellent data." Says Pavlo Kochkin, the first author on the paper.

The results show that most of the X-rays are synchronous with the initiating negative flow of charge within the cloud, as the moving electrons create X-rays via bremsstrahlung in bursts immediately preceding a current pulse of the lightning strike.

The researchers estimate the highest radiation dose in their detector from one of these X-ray bursts to be in the order of 5 x 10-12 Gy. For comparison, the dose normally received due to long flights at altitude is approximately 8 million times higher.

Some of the detected X-ray signals may also be associated with terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGF). Earth-bound TGF have previously been detected from space, but the relevance of these data to TGF requires further investigation.

"We were extremely lucky to be able to work with our collaborators and Airbus," explains Alex van Deursen, another author on the paper. "This data is very interesting - we've made other lightning physicists quite jealous by getting it first!"

The researchers hope to continue to look for indications of terrestrial gamma-ray flow in the next batch of data from more recent flights.
-end-
IOP Publishing Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact


For further information, a full draft of the journal paper, or to talk with one of the researchers, contact IOP Senior Press Officer, Steve Pritchard: Tel: 0117 930 1032 E-mail: steve.pritchard@iop.org. For more information on how to use the embargoed material above, please refer to our embargo policy.

IOP Publishing Journalist Area


The IOP Publishing Journalist Area gives journalists access to embargoed press releases, advanced copies of papers, supplementary images and videos

Login details also give free access to IOPscience, IOP Publishing's journal platform. To apply for a free subscription to this service, please email the IOP Publishing Press team at ioppublishing.press@iop.org, with your name, organisation, address and a preferred username.

Measuring X-rays created by lightning strikes on an aircraft in-flight


The published version of the paper 'In-flight measurements of energetic radiation from lightning and thunderclouds' (Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics 48 425202) will be freely available online from Wednesday 30 September. It will be available at http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/0022-3727/48/42/425202.

Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics


Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics is a major international journal reporting significant new results in all aspects of applied physics research. We welcome experimental, computational (including simulation and modelling) and theoretical studies of applied physics, and also studies in physics-related areas of biomedical and life sciences.

IOP Publishing


IOP Publishing provides publications through which leading-edge scientific research is distributed worldwide.

Beyond our traditional journals programme, we make high-value scientific information easily accessible through an ever-evolving portfolio of books, community websites, magazines, conference proceedings and a multitude of electronic services.

IOP Publishing is central to the Institute of Physics, a not-for-profit society. Any financial surplus earned by IOP Publishing goes to support science through the activities of the Institute.

Go to ioppublishing.org or follow us @IOPPublishing.

Access to Research


Access to Research is an initiative through which the UK public can gain free, walk-in access to a wide range of academic articles and research at their local library. This article is freely available through this initiative. For more information, go to http://www.accesstoresearch.org.uk.

The Institute of Physics


The Institute of Physics is a leading scientific society. We are a charitable organisation with a worldwide membership of more than 50,000, working together to advance physics education, research and application.

We engage with policymakers and the general public to develop awareness and understanding of the value of physics and, through IOP Publishing, we are world leaders in professional scientific communications.

Visit us at http://www.iop.org or follow us on Twitter @physicsnews.

IOP Publishing

Related Physics Articles from Brightsurf:

Helium, a little atom for big physics
Helium is the simplest multi-body atom. Its energy levels can be calculated with extremely high precision only relying on a few fundamental physical constants and the quantum electrodynamics (QED) theory.

Hyperbolic metamaterials exhibit 2T physics
According to Igor Smolyaninov of the University of Maryland, ''One of the more unusual applications of metamaterials was a theoretical proposal to construct a physical system that would exhibit two-time physics behavior on small scales.''

Challenges and opportunities for women in physics
Women in the United States hold fewer than 25% of bachelor's degrees, 20% of doctoral degrees and 19% of faculty positions in physics.

Indeterminist physics for an open world
Classical physics is characterized by the equations describing the world.

Leptons help in tracking new physics
Electrons with 'colleagues' -- other leptons - are one of many products of collisions observed in the LHCb experiment at the Large Hadron Collider.

Has physics ever been deterministic?
Researchers from the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the University of Vienna and the University of Geneva, have proposed a new interpretation of classical physics without real numbers.

Twisted physics
A new study in the journal Nature shows that superconductivity in bilayer graphene can be turned on or off with a small voltage change, increasing its usefulness for electronic devices.

Physics vs. asthma
A research team from the MIPT Center for Molecular Mechanisms of Aging and Age-Related Diseases has collaborated with colleagues from the U.S., Canada, France, and Germany to determine the spatial structure of the CysLT1 receptor.

2D topological physics from shaking a 1D wire
Published in Physical Review X, this new study propose a realistic scheme to observe a 'cold-atomic quantum Hall effect.'

Helping physics teachers who don't know physics
A shortage of high school physics teachers has led to teachers with little-to-no training taking over physics classrooms, reports show.

Read More: Physics News and Physics Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.