Thunderclouds Make Gamma Rays—and Shoot Out Antimatter, Too
Thunderclouds emit gamma rays in powerful, millisecond-long bursts called terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, first discovered by space observatories.
These bursts can also produce beams of electrons and even of antimatter that can travel halfway around the globe.
All proposed explanations for the phenomena involve strong electric fields unleashing avalanches of electrons inside clouds, but none fully accounts for the sheer energies of the gamma rays.
New dedicated space missions and research aircraft may solve the mystery, as well as find out if the flashes pose radiation exposure risks for airline flights.