‘Elves’ and ‘blue jet’ lightning in Earth’s stratosphere spotted from space

Newly published observations from space are showing researchers more about the nature of Earth’s lightning storms, including whimsically named phenomena such as “blue jets” and “elves.”

The International Space Station’s Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM) observatory caught a single blue “jet” (upward-shooting lightning) from a thunderstorm cell, along with four “elves,” or optical and ultraviolet emissions from the bottom of the ionosphere, according to a Nature paper published Wednesday (Jan. 20).

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