Researchers of Northwest Normal University captured spherical lightning spectrum for the first time

Spherical lightning is a mysterious and rare natural phenomenon, and most reports about it come from witnesses. It usually occurs in thunderstorm weather and is spherical in shape, can only last for a few seconds, and will move at a speed of a few meters per second. It is very bright and has a variety of colors. Many scientists have tried to explain spherical lightning from theory and experiment, but so far there has not been a generally accepted statement.

Northwest Normal University researchers Professor Ping Yuan and doctoral students Cen Jianyong and Xue Simin first photographed the whole process of spherical lightning in nature and its emission spectrum. The research results were published in Physical Review Letters (PRL 112, 035001, 2014). The paper was selected as Highlight and Editor's suggestion article by the magazine. It was highlighted in the form of Physical Review Focus on the website of the American Physical Society, and was broadcast by Physics World, New Scientist, CCTV News Network, People's Daily, Science and Technology Daily, etc Well-known websites and media reports.

The spectral data of this research result was obtained by the research group of Professor Yuan Ping in the summer of 2012 in the spectral observation experiment of natural lightning in Datong County, Qinghai. The spherical lightning recorded in this field experiment occurred on a hill, which was formed after the cloud-to-ground lightning hit the ground, about 900 meters away from the observation point, and lasted for 1.64 seconds. Through spectral analysis, it is known that the emission lines mainly come from soil and air. The research results for the first time confirmed the form and main components of spherical lightning in nature, and provided an important basis for further exploration of spherical lightning in nature in theory and experiment.

This research was completed with the support of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project Approval Number).

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