Sprites at La Silla Observatory

Beautiful image of sprites at La Silla Observatory, captured by ESO Photo Ambassador Petr Horálek.

Sprites are extremely rare atmosphere phemomena caused by irregularities in the ionosphere, high above storm clouds, at altitudes of about 80 kilometres. Typically seen as groups of red-orange flashes, they are triggered by positive cloud-to-ground lightning, which is rarer and more powerful than its negative counterpart, as the lightning discharge originates from the upper regions of the cloud, further from the ground. In a short burst, the sprite extends rapidly downwards, creating dangling red tendrils before disappearing.

The sprite pictured here was most likely over 500 kilometres away (compare with a satellite image showing the storm over Argentina), spanned a height of up to 80 kilometres and lasted only a fraction of a second.

Links:

Credit:

P. Horálek/ESO

About the Image

Id:potw1505d
Type:Photographic
Release date:2 February 2015, 10:00
Size:6725 x 3018 px

About the Object

Name:La Silla
Type:Unspecified : Sky Phenomenon : Night Sky
Unspecified : Technology : Observatory
Category:La Silla

Image Formats

Large JPEG
7.4 MB
Screensize JPEG
157.5 KB

Zoomable


Wallpapers

1024x768
325.6 KB
1280x1024
547.1 KB
1600x1200
794.8 KB
1920x1200
936.7 KB
2048x1536
1.3 MB

 

Also see our