The US National Research Laboratory for Optical Infrared Astronomy has published "snapshot of the week", which is a photograph of an unusual triple atmospheric phenomenon in the Hawaiian sky. Technically, from a scientific point of view, it is quite common, but in practice it is a rare sight. The chances of taking a picture of him at the right moment are completely exhaustive, but in this case, a purposeful hunt for such phenomena was carried out, the result of which was a unique "trophy".
Three parts of this phenomenon can be clearly seen in the picture. The vast white glow from below is a discharge of ordinary lightning, it emanates from a thundercloud and rushes to the surface of the earth. Above it is visible a blue "jet" - ionospheric lightning, which is directed into space. Even higher, like a flower bud, a red "sprite" opens - a plasma discharge that occurs only in the highest layers of the atmosphere. The uniqueness of the frame is that all three of these phenomena in one place have never been observed before.
Theoretically, both sprites and jets are a visual effect of the compensatory mechanism - when lightning strikes the ground, this discharge must be compensated for by an ejection in the opposite direction. However, unlike lightning, sprites and jets are visible only for a split second - in addition, they are almost always hidden behind clouds. The Gemini Observatory on Mauna Kea is located at an altitude of more than 4 km, so when a storm approaches, a "lightning hunt" program is launched here. Pictures of the sky are taken automatically every 30 seconds, which made it possible to get this unique frame.
Sprite from space