Sky High: Gamma-ray bursts are common in Earth's upper atmosphere | Science News

ADVERTISEMENT

MISSION CRITICAL

Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


News

Sky High: Gamma-ray bursts are common in Earth's upper atmosphere

By
11:25am, February 16, 2005

Enigmatic bursts of high-energy gamma rays produced in Earth's atmosphere are surprisingly strong and frequent, satellite data suggest.

In the early 1990s, Earth-orbiting sensors originally designed to monitor sporadic flares of gamma rays from exotic sources such as black holes and neutron stars also detected the high-energy photons coming from a more mundane source—Earth's atmosphere. These terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs) were seen once every few weeks and lasted around a millisecond, says physicist David M. Smith of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News