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The La Silla Observatory in Chile captured rare red sprites over the Atacama Desert
The La Silla Observatory in Chile captured rare red sprites over the Atacama Desert

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English

29 Август 2022

In this photo taken in the Chilean Atacama Desert by the La Silla Observatory, you can see bright red stripes in the sky, known as red sprites. Red sprites are powerful electrical discharges that occur high above thunderclouds. They appear in the Earth 's atmosphere at an altitude of 50-90 km .

 

People have been telling stories for centuries about mysterious red lights in the sky, which were usually rejected by experts. Even when respectable pilots or scientists (including C.T.R. Wilson, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics) described them, the scientific community ignored these phenomena. However, in 1989, scientists from the University of Minnesota photographed red sprites, and the attitude towards them has changed since then. Although red sprites are now regularly photographed and videotaped, including by astronauts on the International Space Station, they are still quite rare.

 

This new photo almost looks like a painting. Red sprites appear low on the horizon. The background of the photo has a green tint due to the glow of the air. As explained in the European Southern Observatory, it occurs due to the fact that during the day sunlight knocks electrons from nitrogen and oxygen into the Earth's atmosphere, and at night these electrons recombine with atoms and molecules, causing them to glow. Usually, the glow of the air can only be seen in a very dark sky, where there is no light pollution.

 

Source: AstroNews