Jupiter’s lightning bolts contort the same way as Earth’s

Tuesday, May 23, 2023 - 10:22 in Astronomy & Space

On Jupiter, lightning jerks and jolts a lot like it does on Earth. Jovian lightning emits radio wave pulses that are typically separated by about one millisecond, researchers report May 23 in Nature Communications. The energetic prestissimo, the scientists say, is a sign that the gas giant’s lightning propagates in pulses, at a pace comparable to that of the bolts that cavort through our own planet’s thunderclouds. The similarities between the two world’s electrical phenomena could have implications for the search for alien life. Arcs of lightning on both worlds appear to move somewhat like a winded hiker going up a mountain, pausing after each step to catch their breath, says Ivana Kolmašová, an atmospheric physicist at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague. “One step, another step, then another step … and so on.” Here on Earth, lightning forms as turbulent winds within thunderclouds cause many ice crystals and water droplets to...

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