The Electric Potential of Thunderstorms

How many volts does one lightning strike possess? Well, we didn’t really have the means to measure it accurately until they looked into muons present in a thunderstorm.

Using muons, heavier relatives of electrons that constantly rain down on Earth’s surface, scientists probed the insides of a storm in southern India in December 2014. The cloud’s electric potential — the amount of work necessary to move an electron from one part of the cloud to another — reached 1.3 billion volts, the researchers report in a study accepted in Physical Review Letters. That’s 10 times the largest voltage previously found by using balloons to make similar measurements.

(Image credit: Ian Froome/Unsplash)

Source: neatorama

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