This mysterious phenomenon associated with storms was photographed by an airline pilot

This mysterious phenomenon associated with storms was photographed by an airline pilot

A pilot managed to capture an unusual phenomenon on video: a “blue plane” appearing above a violent storm. Scientists are working to understand these transient light events that continue to challenge our understanding of meteorology.

The video taken from the cockpit of a commercial aircraft is only 6 seconds long. Just enough time to admire a violent storm and photograph a strange phenomenon: a giant lightning bolt that takes the form of a blue “tube” jutting upward.

I captured the surreal beauty of the giant jet phenomenon during my night flight, a scene straight out of a sci-fi movie! 🌌 Did you know about this wonderful “natural” phenomenon? “asks pilot Alexandre Torres on his Instagram account (@airbus.fr), where more than 10 million people have viewed his video as of March 3, 2024, almost a week after it was published.

Alexandre Torres is not the only one who has taken this type of photo in recent years. Guillaume Hobham (@chasseur_d.orages_lorrain), a storm chaser from eastern France, captured a photo of this luminous phenomenon in 2019 and shared it on Instagram.

In 2021, the European Space Agency (ESA) released an artistic version of this light effect seen from space. ESA explains that there is still a lot to discover about storm phenomena. “A blue jet is a form of lightning that shoots upward from storm clouds. They can reach up to 50 kilometers into the stratosphere, and last less than a second. A space storm chaser measured a blue jet that shot out with five intense 10-microsecond flashes in a cloud near Naru Island in the Pacific Ocean..” this “flash” also led to the creation of “elves” (see diagram below).

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And still, according to the European Agency. “These phenomena can even affect the concentration of greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere“.

Pilots often report these “transient light events” that are difficult to study because they occur above storms.

Satellites have scanned it, and observations have been made from mountaintops, but their viewing angle is not ideal for collecting large-scale data. In contrast, the ISS's low orbit covers a large portion of Earth along the equator, and is ideally placed to capture sprites and jets“Explains the European Space Agency.

According to a study conducted in 2019 and published in natureThese optical phenomena are generated by an electromagnetic pulse at the bottom of the ionosphere, caused by a lightning discharge. However, the phenomenon appears relatively weak and very local, compared to lightning that originates between the ground and clouds. This suggests that the blue flashes and jets result from a chain reaction of ionized air molecules: “We propose that the UV pulses are generated by flash-band currents, rather than lightning currents.“, explained the authors of the article.

Aside from its beauty and hypnotic appearance, “Jet Blue” is not to be taken lightly. These events can affect the way radio waves travel through the air and thus potentially affect communications technologies.

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