Most powerful electrical storm ever recorded occurred in 2014 and discovered by a group of Indian researchers. The storm was recorded as 1.3 billion volts.
By studying the amount of muons, Indian researchers were able to estimate the electrical voltage of a storm that occurred in 2014, ten times higher than those observed with the usual means.
1.3 billion volts: this is the impressive voltage measured during a storm that occurred on December 1, 2014 by Indian researchers. As a comparison, the difference in electrical potential between the two points of a flash usually goes up to 100 million volts maximum. But then, how could such a tension be estimated? Most of the time, lightning is studied using balloons or drones, which limits the measure to a part of the storm cloud.
The researchers, whose explanations were published in the journal Physical Review Letters on March 15, used the data from the Grapes-3 telescope, located in Ooty, India, which measures high-energy cosmic ray particles. In particular, it detects muons, negatively charged particles like electrons but 200 times heavier. During a storm, the muon flux captured by the telescope is slowed down by the electric field of the cloud and we can thus estimate the electric potential difference of the latter.
During the storm of December 1, 2014, the telescope recorded a drop of 2% in the amount of muons, according to their calculations the researchers determined an electrical potential of 1.3 billion volts and a power of 2 billion watts, the equivalent of two medium-sized nuclear reactors. If such tensions were confirmed, they could explain the phenomenon of TGF (Terrestrial Gamma Flashes), terrestrial gamma-ray flashes comparable to cosmic emissions observed during thunderstorms and whose energy can reach 100 MeV.