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Positron clouds within thunderstorms

Dwyer, Joseph R. and Smith, David M. and Hazelton, Bryna J. and Grefenstette, Brian W. and Kelley, Nicole A. and Lowell, Alexander W. and Schaal, Meagan M. and Rassoul, Hamid K. (2015) Positron clouds within thunderstorms. Journal of Plasma Physics, 81 (4). Art. No. 475810405. ISSN 0022-3778. doi:10.1017/S0022377815000549.

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We report the observation of two isolated clouds of positrons inside an active thunderstorm. These observations were made by the Airborne Detector for Energetic Lightning Emissions (ADELE), an array of six gamma-ray detectors, which flew on a Gulfstream V jet aircraft through the top of an active thunderstorm in August 2009. ADELE recorded two 511 keV gamma-ray count rate enhancements, 35 s apart, each lasting approximately 0.2 s. The enhancements, which were approximately a factor of 12 above background, were both accompanied by electrical activity as measured by a flat-plate antenna on the underside of the aircraft. The energy spectra were consistent with a source mostly composed of positron annihilation gamma rays, with a prominent 511 keV line clearly visible in the data. Model fits to the data suggest that the aircraft was briefly immersed in clouds of positrons, more than a kilometre across. It is not clear how the positron clouds were created within the thunderstorm, but it is possible they were caused by the presence of the aircraft in the electrified environment.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Smith, David M.0000-0002-0542-5759
Grefenstette, Brian W.0000-0002-1984-2932
Additional Information:© 2015 Cambridge University Press. Received 28 February 2015, revised 27 April 2015, accepted 28 April 2015; first published online 5 June 2015. This work was supported in part by NSF awards AGS 1519236, 1160226, 0619941 and 0846609 and NASA award DPR S-15633-Y.
Group:Space Radiation Laboratory
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Issue or Number:4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20150713-084845974
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Official Citation: Joseph R. Dwyer, David M. Smith, Bryna J. Hazelton, Brian W. Grefenstette, Nicole A. Kelley, Alexander W. Lowell, Meagan M. Schaal and Hamid K. Rassoul (2015). Positron clouds within thunderstorms. Journal of Plasma Physics, 81, 475810405 doi:10.1017/S0022377815000549
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:58860
Deposited On:13 Jul 2015 16:09
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 22:11

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