Volume 124, Number 1, October 2018
|Number of page(s)||5|
|Section||Physics of Gases, Plasmas and Electric Discharges|
|Published online||12 November 2018|
The critical avalanche of runaway electrons
P.N. Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences - 53 Leninskiy Prospekt 119991, Moscow, Russia
Received: 20 August 2018
Accepted: 9 October 2018
The x-ray and gamma-ray flashes observed in the Earth atmosphere during a thunderstorm are usually associated with the generation of runaway electrons (RE) in atmospheric electric fields. It is supposed that runaway electron avalanches initiated by cosmic rays play the main role in high-altitude discharges observed in a thunderstorm atmosphere. We have performed three-dimensional numerical calculations to investigate the mechanism of the development of a critical avalanche and to determine its parameters. It has been shown that the number of electrons in a critical avalanche occurring in air under conditions characteristic of thunderstorm discharges can reach a value of the order of 1018.
PACS: 52.80.-s – Electric discharges / 52.65.Ww – Hybrid methods
© EPLA, 2018
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