Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Neutrons Born In Lightning

13.09.2005


It turns out that a stroke of lightning produces thermonuclear reaction, which generates quite a noticeable stream of neutrons.

To produce thermonuclear reaction it is necessary, firstly, to have nuclei with a large quantity of neutrons available, for example, deuterium nuclei, and secondly, these nuclei should possess sufficiently high velocity and merge together upon collision, having overcome the Coulomb barrier. It turns out that all these conditions are observed in the course of a stroke of lightning – such a conslusion is evident from calculations by B.M. Kuzhevsky, Ph.D. (Physics&Mathematics), head of the neutron research laboratory, Skobeltsin Scientific Research Institute of Nuclear Physics (Moscow State University).

Deuterium is always present in water: on average, a molecule of DHO (water, where one of hydrogen atoms is replaced by deuterium) falls to 6,800 molecules of H2O. That means – taking into account the quantity of water vapour available in the atmosphere (i.e. 5x10^-4 g/cubic centimeter) – there will be 10^15 deuterium atoms per cubic centimeter. In lightning, these atoms turn into ions and are capable of gathering speed up to considerable energy. With the lightning canal diameter varying from 2 millimeters to 5 centimeters, and discharge duration making the ten-thousandth of a second, it proves that billions of deuterium atoms will have time to start reacting with each other and to generate precisely two times less atoms of helium-3 and neutrons. These neutrons already possess enormous energy – 2.45 MeV. However, in the atmosphere of our planet they are capable of living at most for 0.2 seconds, during which they will inevitably meet with nitrogen atoms and be absorbed by them. This time period is sufficient for neutrons to fly a distance of one or two kilometers.



The calculation has been also confirmed by experimental data. The DYAIZA facility developed at the Institute and installed in Moscow at the Vorobyevy Hills repeatedly recorded neutron emission peaks during thunderstorms, their magnitude exceeding that of the background by hundreds of times.

Several important conclusions can be drawn from the above effort. Firstly, this helps to solve a long-standing puzzle: why cosmonauts on board the MIR space station observed high neutron background in the area of the equator. Keeping in mind that thunderstorms permanently burst out in this region, it is easy to guess where high neutron background comes from. Secondly, the same mechanism should also work in the atmospheres of Venus and Jupiter where thunderstorms are also frequent and sporadic neutron streams should arise there. That means that investigation of these planets’ neutron emission should take into account this particular fact not to confuse by accident “thundery” neutrons with some other neutrons.

Sergey Komarov | alfa
Further information:
http://www.informnauka.ru

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Turning entanglement upside down
22.05.2018 | Universität Innsbruck

nachricht Astronomers release most complete ultraviolet-light survey of nearby galaxies
18.05.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Matabele ants: Travelling faster with detours

22.05.2018 | Life Sciences

Flow of cerebrospinal fluid regulates neural stem cell division

22.05.2018 | Life Sciences

Chemists at FAU successfully demonstrate imine hydrogenation with inexpensive main group metal

22.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>