sciencehabit writes: Nobody knows exactly what triggers lightning bolts. Now, two Russian researchers say that these discharges of a billion volts or more could be caused by the interaction of cosmic rays—high-energy particles from outer space—with water droplets in thunderclouds.The results, reported this week in Physical Review Letters, show that storm clouds emit "hundreds or thousands" of short, strong radio pulses just before lightning strikes. Their shape, the researchers say, matches their models of runaway breakdown triggered by energetic cosmic rays.
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