Home Scientia Educare Blog Scientists have captured the first image of thunder.

Scientists have captured the first image of thunder.



Scientists ‘see’ thunder for first time

Map of sound waves sheds light on the energy behind lightning

For the first time, scientists have precisely mapped the loud clap radiating from a lightning strike. This picture of thunder’s origins could reveal the energies involved in powering some of nature’s flashiest light shows.

Lightning strikes when an electric current flows from a negatively charged cloud to the ground. This rapidly heats and expands the surrounding air, creating sonic shock waves. We hear this as thunder.

Scientists have a basic understanding of the origins of thunder. Still, experts have lacked a detailed picture of the physics powering the loud cracks and low rumbles.

Maher Dayeh works at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. As a heliophysicist, he studies the sun and its effects on the solar system, including Earth. He and his colleagues also study lightning — by making their own. These experts trigger the bolts by firing a small rocket into an electrically charged cloud. Trailing behind the rocket is a long, Kevlar-coated copper wire. The lightning travels along that wire to the ground.

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