Exponential relaxation of optical emissions in sprites

Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh, Victor P. Pasko, Umran S. Inan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    [i] The optical emissions in a large number of bright sprites observed over one storm in 1998 exhibit a relaxation that is closely exponential in time. This feature was unexpected but might be explained by the presence of quasi-constant electric fields over times of several milliseconds, in which case the optical relaxation would be a direct indication of the exponentially changing electron density. The relaxation rates for sprites appear to have an upper bound that is consistent with the dissociative electron attachment rates expected at sprite altitudes. The experimental results are consistent with existing large-scale electrodynamic models of sprites as well as with the streamer mechanism as the underlying physical process for sprite ionization.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
    Volume107
    Issue numberA5
    DOIs
    StatePublished - May 2002

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Geophysics
    • Forestry
    • Oceanography
    • Aquatic Science
    • Ecology
    • Water Science and Technology
    • Soil Science
    • Geochemistry and Petrology
    • Earth-Surface Processes
    • Atmospheric Science
    • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
    • Space and Planetary Science
    • Palaeontology

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