Invisible Dark Lightning Launches Gamma Rays In Every Direction

Dark lightning occurs about once for every thousand bolts of bright lightning. Scientists have been observing gamma-ray flashes that stem from thunderstorms for decades, but dark lightning has only recently been proposed as an explanation. The radiation produced by dark lightning could theoretically reach people traveling in airplanes, but there have been no recorded cases of people "struck" by this phenomenon-probably because you'd need to carry a radiation detector on you to prove it!

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Airplane passengers are the people most likely to be exposed to dark lightning. 00:22

  2. Dark lightning is an invisible spray of x-rays and gamma rays that can occur at the same time as visible lightning. 00:49

  3. There's approximately one dark lightning flash for every thousand visible lightning flashes. 01:54

Written by Curiosity Staff December 12, 2015