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lightning and gamma rays

derek w

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In physics the distinction between x-rays and gamma rays is not one of energy, but (as Sensei notes) one of origin. So acceleration of electrons as in lightning can and does produce x-rays but would not produce gamma rays.

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OK, you could get gammas from the annihilation radiation, and produce the matter/antimatter pairs from high-energy x-rays or possibly other processes.


One should also note that there are a fair number of people who get sloppy in their use of the gamma vs x-ray terminology, which can be confusing.

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Thanks I watched the video,but the article says that strong electric fields produce an upward avalanche of electrons which reach nearly the speed of light.These high energy electrons give of gamma rays when they collide with air molecules and these gamma rays produce electron/positron pairs.

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X-rays and photons with the energy of gamma rays have been observed from the ground as well, which I trust more because the rays can be linked definitely with one bolt there.


I fully agree with a population of electrons with high energy, since over 100eV, they loose less energy per unit length than a low energy, hence continue to accelerate. Ahead of the main bolt is a good place to first attain this energy.


We had the discussion there:


especially the rationale about linear energy transfer, post #4 on 25 August 2012

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