Volume 139, Number 5, September 2022
|Number of page(s)||7|
|Published online||24 August 2022|
Development of the relativistic runaway avalanches in the lower atmosphere above mountain altitudes
A. Alikhanyan National Lab (Yerevan Physics Institute) - Alikhanyan Brothers 2, Yerevan, Armenia
Received: 31 March 2022
Accepted: 5 August 2022
The comparative analysis of three thunderstorms on Aragats in May 2021 demonstrates that relativistic runaway electron avalanches (RREAs) can reach very low altitudes above the Earth’s surface on mountain altitudes. RREAs which reach the Earth’s surface are registered by the particle detectors as thunderstorm ground enhancements (TGEs) —large enhancements of electron and gamma ray fluxes, sometimes exceeding the fair-weather background fluxes up to a hundred times. By comparing the energy spectra of electrons and gamma rays it is possible to estimate the height above the ground where an RREA terminates and avalanche particles exit the accelerating field. For the several TGEs registered on Aragats, this estimate varied between 50 and 150 meters. The threshold electric field can reach on heights of . When a lightning’s active zone is above particle detectors RREAs last tens of seconds to a few minutes, until lightning flashes terminate electron acceleration. If the lightning activity is far from the detector site, TGEs are extended for a few tens of minutes and smoothly decay and TGE has a more or less symmetrical shape.
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