Discovered just 25 years ago, ‘red lightning’ (or ‘sprites’) are electrical discharges that appear for just milliseconds as bursts of red light above clouds during thunderstorms. Due to their height and their transient nature, they are not easily detected or photographed – but a new research study has captured fantastic rare images of this fascinating phenomenon:
A sprite is a kind of upper atmosphere electrical discharge associated with thunderstorms. A large electric field, generated by some lightning strokes, ionizes the air high above the cloud, which then emits the light we see in the pictures. They obviously beg comparison to the regular lightning bolts we see all the time, but I like to point out that the sprites are much higher, with the tops reaching up to around 100 kilometers, and higher. A lightning bolt might stretch around 10 kilometers from the cloud to the ground, but a sprite can reach 50 kilometers tall.