Lightning strikes twice dangerously. Image Source: https://www.pexels.com/@andre-furtado-43594

April 22 : It is the summer season in India and just as the people are alarmed and dead tired with the burning heat, they still have to face the wrath of the fearful lightning. Over the past 10 years, research has approximately found that the lightning strikes have doubled in strength in various parts of the world.

In olden days, there was a myth by the old folks- A lightning strike never strikes twice in the same place. But this research at the University of Groningen may have a novel research finding to share with the world.

Using the LOFAR radio telescope, the research team unfolded the real reason of lightning flashes. LOFAR means Low Frequency Array which is a Dutch radio telescope. It encompasses of many antennas well spread across Northern Europe. The explanations were as follows:

When a thundercloud is formed, it stores plenty of negative charges. When a flash happens, all these negative charges are not dispersed in one go.

Some of the charges will be stored within the leader channel at interruption points. Such structures have been named as needles by researchers. Within each of these needles, there is a possibility that a negative charge which can be released in a repeated discharge to the ground.

What is the real game inside the Lightning Strike and Thundercloud?

Once large clouds are formed, a certain type of static electricity is developed and that is what later develops into lightning. Now in each of these clouds, some portions will be positively charged and some of it will be negatively charged. This keeps building up and once a charge separation is huge and voluminous- then a strong and powerful discharge will take place. That is what the common man calls as lightning.

Plasma is formed within a tiny area of hot air. This air could be electrically conducive and that leads to the development of a discharge. This small area slowly develops into a forked plasma channel and can extend up to many kilometers. The positive tips within the channel absorb the negative charges from the cloud. These come into contact with the negative tips of the channel and that is when everything gets discharged.

It is the discharge channel that needles are formed. They help to discharge negative charges from the channel, which in turn re- enters the cloud. When negative charges reduce within the channel, a temporary break happens. By this time, if the negative charges build up within the cloud, the cycle continues and quickly, another strike of lightning comes up in the same area.

Why wasn’t this discovery made in the past?

Well, such happenings did exist in the past, but now researchers could understand the true picture with the help of the LOFAR radio telescope. It is said to extremely useful for such purposes and can identify even the highest frequencies.

So, this brings us to conclusion – that yes a lightning can strike twice in the same place- if the situation proves suitable for it.

Sources from: https://www.rug.nl/news/2019/04/why-lightning-often-strikes-twice

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