Scientists investigated the “green ghost”

For the first time, scientists could obtain the spectroscopy of a “green ghost”. It is a very short-term phenomenon, first photographed in 2019. Now it has become a little clearer what it is.

Sprites during thunderstorms. Source:

“Green Ghost”

For the first time, a team of astronomers from a number of European universities and scientific institutions recorded spectroscopy data of a mesospheric green ghost. The results were published in the journal Nature Communications.

The study started with thunderstorms. Scientists have known for a long time that lightning, familiar to everyone, is not the only light phenomenon that occurs during them. Sometimes so-called sprites appear above them. These are also electrical discharges that occur extremely quickly. They usually have a red-orange color.

However, it turned out that the phenomena during thunderstorms were not limited to them either. In 2019, amateur scientist Hank Schyma was capturing sprites during a thunderstorm when he detected an incomprehensible glow in the sky above them.Later, it turned out that these were highlights, which were called the “green ghost” and had been recorded in the photo several times before, but so far, no one thought that this was something new.

Researching strange flares

Scientists studying electrical phenomena in the earth’s atmosphere immediately became interested in the “green ghost”. They wanted to use a spectrograph to study it and find out the chemicals involved in its appearance. However, it turned out to be a difficult task to do this due to the rarity and short duration of these phenomena.

The researchers had to wait four years for the “green ghost” to get all the necessary data about it. It turns out that this phenomenon, although it lasts a very short time, is still much longer than ordinary sprites. One flare lasts about 500 microseconds. 

Spectroscopy showed the most interesting results. It was determined that there were particles of nickel, iron and nitrogen combining with oxygen. This means that the green ghost is a phenomenon of combustion in the atmosphere of micrometeorites that somehow interacts with electrical discharges.

According to

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