Dark Lightning and Water from Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9

26 Apr 2013

Water from Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 which spectacularly struck Jupiter way back in 1994 appears to have left behind millions of gallons of water, it is claimed - see www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/349941/title/News_in_Brief_Comets_wa... and the paper is in the April 23rd issue of Astronomy and Astrophysics journal. Telescopes had spotted water above the cloud tops on Jupiter, and this has been known for some time. However, when researchers, intrigued by this, made use of ESAs Herschel Space Observatory they were able to create a map of water vapour in the atmosphere of Jupiter and the French team then found the water peaked in the very region where the comet had struck the planet. Water was also at high altitudes, a further indication of a cometary origin.

Over at http://phys.org/print286044634.html ... researchers say they have identified a burst of high energy radiation known as 'dark lightning' immediately preceding a flash of ordinary white lightning. This provides observational evidence the two phenomena are connected - but why is another matter. The paper, by Nikolai Ostgaard (University of Bergen in Norway) can be found in Geophysical Research Letters journal. Dark lightning is a burst of gamma rays produced during thunderstorms by very fast moving electrons colliding with air molecules. Dark lightning is the most energetic radiation produced in the terrestrial environment, which in this instance includes the atmosphere.