Lightning Types

types of characteristic rays

Human beings have always been fascinated by rays. It is a powerful discharge of natural static electricity. It usually occurs during a thunderstorm that generates an electromagnetic pulse. This electrical discharge of lightning is accompanied by the emission of light known by the name of lightning and the sound that is known by the name of thunder. However, there are numerous types of rays depending on the origin and the shape they have.

In this article we are going to tell you what the different types of rays are and how they are formed.

Key features

dangerous types of lightning

The electrical discharge that precipitates from the lightning is accompanied by an emission of light. This emission of light is known as lightning and is caused by the passage of electric current that ionizes the molecules in the air. Afterwards, a sound that is known by the name of thunder was heard and is developed by the shock wave. The electricity produced passes through the atmosphere, heats it, expands the air quickly and produces the characteristic noise of the ground. The rays are in a plasmatic state.

The mean length of a ray is approximately 1500 meters. As a curiosity, in 2007, the longest lightning bolt recorded was in Oklahoma and reached 321 kilometers in length. Lightning usually travels at an average speed of about 440 kilometers per second and can reach speeds of up to 1400 kilometers per second. The potential difference is my million volts with respect to the ground. Therefore, these rays are highly dangerous. About 16 million lightning storms are recorded across the planet each year.

The most normal thing is that in the different types of rays they are produced by positive particles in the earth and negative in the clouds. This is due to the vertical development of clouds called cumulonimbus. When a cumulonimbus reaches the tropopause (the end zone of the troposphere), the positive charges that the cloud has are responsible for attracting negative charges. This movement of charges through the atmosphere is what forms the rays. It usually forms a back and forth effect. It refers to the particles rising instantaneously and returning causing the vision that the rays go down.

Lightning can generate an instantaneous power of one million watts, which can be comparable to that of a nuclear explosion. The discipline within meteorology that is responsible for studying lightning and everything related to it is called cerraunology.

Formation of lightning types types of rays

How the electric shock starts is still a matter of debate. Scientists have not yet been able to establish what the root causes of it are. The best known are those that say that atmospheric disturbances are the cause of the origin of the types of lightning. These disturbances in the atmosphere They are due to changes in winds, humidity and atmospheric pressure. The effects of the solar wind and the accumulation of charged solar particles are also discussed.

Ice is thought to be the key component in development. And it is because it is responsible for promoting a separation between positive and negative charges within the cumulonimbus cloud. Lightning can also occur in ash clouds from volcanic eruptions, or it can also be the result of violent forest fires that generate dust capable of creating a static charge.

In the hypothesis of electrostatic induction we have that the charges are driven with processes that are still uncertain for humans. The separation of the charges requires a strong upward air current, which is responsible for carrying the water droplets upwards. In this way, when the water droplets reach higher heights where the colder surrounding air occurs, accelerated cooling occurs. Normally these levels are supercooled at temperatures of -10 and -20 degrees. The collision of ice crystals forms a combination of water and ice called hail. The collisions that occur cause a slightly positive charge to be transferred to ice crystals and a slightly negative charge to hail.

The currents drive the lighter ice crystals upward and cause positive charges to build up at the back of the cloud. Finally, the action of Earth's gravity is what makes the hail fall with negative charges as it is heavier towards the center and to the lowest parts of the cloud. The separation of charges and accumulation continues until the electrical potential becomes sufficient to initiate an electrical discharge.

Another hypothesis that exists about the polarization mechanism has two components. Let's see what they are:

  • Falling ice and water droplets become electrically polarized at the moment in which they fall through the earth's natural electric field.
  • Falling ice particles that they collide and charge by electrostatic induction.

Lightning Types

electric storm

As we have mentioned before, there are different types of rays that have particular characteristics. The most common lightning bolt is the one most frequently observed and is known as the streak ray. This is the visible part of the ray trace. Most of them occur within a cloud so they cannot be seen. Let's see what are the main types of rays:

  • Cloud-to-ground lightning: it is the best known and the second most common. It represents the greatest threat to life and property. It is capable of impacting the earth and discharges between a cumulonimbus cloud and the earth.
  • Pearl ray: is a type of cloud-to-ground lightning that appears to break into a chain of short, bright sections.
  • Staccato lightning: It is another type of cloud-to-ground lightning and has a short duration that seems like only flash. It is usually very bright and has considerable ramifications.
  • Forked beam: they are those rays from cloud to ground that exhibit the branching of their path.
  • Cloud ground lightning: it is a discharge between the earth and the cloud that begins with an initial upward stroke. It is more rare must.
  • Cloud to cloud lightning: It occurs between areas that are not in contact with the ground. It usually occurs when two separate clouds generate a difference in electrical potential.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about the different types of rays and their characteristics.

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