·

ELVES captured above a thunderstorm in Colorado, US

elve-captured-above-a-thunderstorm-in-colorado-us

On June 8, 2016, amateur astronomer Thomas Ashcraft captured an enormous ring of light high above a thunderstorm in southeast Colorado.

"It only lasted about a millisecond, but it was definitely there. The ring was about 300 km (186 miles) wide," Ashcraft estimates.

He photographed the phenomenon using a low-light video camera:

This is an example of an ELVES (Emissions of Light and Very Low Frequency Perturbations due to Electromagnetic Pulse Sources), SpaceWeather's Dr. Tony Phillips explains.

This phenomenon appears when a pulse of electromagnetic radiation from lightning propagates up toward space and hits the base of Earth's ionosphere. A faint ring of light marks the broad 'spot' where the EMP hits.

ELVES often appear alongside red sprites. Indeed, Ashcraft's camera caught a cluster of sprites leaping straight up through the middle of the donut. "Play the complete video to see the sprites," says Ashcraft.

ELVE and Sprite June 8, 2016 Southeast Colorado with Radio Scatter Reflection from Thomas Ashcraft on Vimeo.

The one millisecond lifetime of this phenomenon explains why ELVES are so elusive and invisible to the human eye.

They were first seen in a video recorded by cameras on the space shuttle on October 7, 1990, directly above an active thunderstorm off the coast of French Guyana (Boeck et al., 1992):

"A large horizontal flash appeared at the altitude of the airglow layer. It occurred in the video field before the appearance of main lightning flash in a thunderstorm that was near the limb of the Earth. They [Boeck et al.] concluded that the causative lightning flash occurred slightly after the video scan passed the location of the storm image. There was a clear view of the mesosphere below the airglow layer, but there was no indication of a sprite in the video sequence (although a sprite event was captured 4½ hours earlier under similar moonlight conditions). The video was presented at the 1991 Spring AGU meeting (Boeck et al., 1991a) as well as at the Aerospace Lightning Conference (Boeck et al., 1991b).

Several years passed before there was a second successful measurement of the ELVES phenomenon. On June 23, 1995 Lyons et al. (1995) and Fukunishi et al. (1996) confirmed the existence of a flash similar to the airglow flash seen earlier in the shuttle data, and Lyons et al. (1995) gave it the name Emissions of Light and Very Low Frequency Perturbations From Electromagnetic Pulse Sources (ELVES). Lyons presented video images captured by a low-light-level TV camera sited near Ft. Collins, Colorado."

Reference:

  • "The Role of the Space Shuttle Videotapes in the Discovery of Sprites, Jets, and Elves" – Boeck et al. – GHRC

Featured image: ELVE captured by Thomas Ashcraft above Colorado, US on June 8, 2016. Credit: Thomas Ashcraft

If you value what we do here, create your ad-free account and support our journalism.

Share:


Your support makes a difference

Dear valued reader,

We hope that our website has been a valuable resource for you.

The reality is that it takes a lot of time, effort, and resources to maintain and grow this website. We rely on the support of readers like you to keep providing high-quality content.

If you have found our website to be helpful, please consider making a contribution to help us continue to bring you the information you need. Your support means the world to us and helps us to keep doing what we love.

Support us by choosing your support level – Silver, Gold or Platinum. Other support options include Patreon pledges and sending us a one-off payment using PayPal.

Thank you for your consideration. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,
Teo Blašković

$5 /month

  • Ad-free account
  • Clean user interface and fast browsing
  • Direct communication with us via chat and email
  • Suggest new features, content and applications
  • Early access to new apps and features

$50 /year

$10 /month

  • Ad-free account
  • Clean user interface and fast browsing
  • Direct communication with us via chat and email
  • Suggest new features, content and applications
  • Early access to new apps and features

$100 /year

$25 /month

  • Ad-free account
  • Clean user interface and fast browsing
  • Direct communication with us via chat and email
  • Suggest new features, content and applications
  • Early access to new apps and features

$200 /year

You can also support us on Patreon

support us on patreon

or by sending us a one-off payment using PayPal:


Commenting rules and guidelines

We value the thoughts and opinions of our readers and welcome healthy discussions on our website. In order to maintain a respectful and positive community, we ask that all commenters follow these rules:

  • Treat others with kindness and respect.
  • Stay on topic and contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way.
  • Do not use abusive or hateful language.
  • Do not spam or promote unrelated products or services.
  • Do not post any personal information or content that is illegal, obscene, or otherwise inappropriate.

We reserve the right to remove any comments that violate these rules. By commenting on our website, you agree to abide by these guidelines. Thank you for helping to create a positive and welcoming environment for all.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *