The emission of terrestrial gamma‐ray flashes from encountering streamer coronae associated to the breakdown of lightning leaders

C. Köhn*, M. Heumesser, O. Chanrion, K. Nishikawa, V. Reglero, T. Neubert

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Terrestrial gamma‐ray flashes (TGFs) are beams of high‐energy photons associated to lightning. These photons are the bremsstrahlung of energetic electrons whose origin is currently explained by two mechanisms: energizing electrons in weak, but large‐scale thundercloud fields or the acceleration of low‐energy electrons in strong, but localized fields of lightning leaders. Contemporary measurements by the Atmosphere‐Space Interactions Monitor suggest that the production of TGFs is related to the leader step and associated streamer coronae when upwards moving intracloud lightning illuminates. Based on these observations, we apply a particle‐in‐cell Monte Carlo code tracing electrons in the superposed electric field of two encountering streamer coronae and modeling the subsequent photon emission. We also perform a parameter study by solving the deterministic equations of motion for one electron. We find that this mechanism can explain the occurrence of TGFs with photons energies of several MeV lasting for 10s to 100s of μs, in agreement with observations.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020GL089749
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume47
Issue number20
Number of pages11
ISSN0094-8276
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

©2020. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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