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Physical analog of a globular lightning

Nikolay Noskov
Translated from Russian by Jury Sarychev

During centuries many researchers all over the world attempted to open a secret of a globular lightning (further GL), however its nature while still remains by a secret under seven locks. So, in the monography of J. Barry "Ball lightning and bead lightning" [1] (1983) is mentioned about four hundred authors, which one studied a phenomenon of GL. Among them Lomonosov and Richman (1753), Tate (1880), Rimann (1897), Gesehus (1899) were. The works of Rabat (high-voltage flash-over in the unloaded gas), Kapitsa [2] (GL is fed by an invisible channel of a linear lightning), Smirnov [3] (recharge of ions in plasma on multielectronic admixtures), Barry (combustion of hydrocarbon), Stakhanov [4] (derivation of hyperthermal clusters and high molecular films like bubble) excite particular interest. More or less actual hypotheses of the nature of GL are expressed in these works.

In 1975...1977 Stakhanov literally has undertaken storm on attempt to open the nature of GL. Through the magazine "Science and life" he has addressed to the population of former USSR with the request to the eyewitnesses to send the descriptions of a phenomenon of GL. More than thousand letters were received. Stakhanov has processed of the obtained items of information. The outcomes can be expressed by his words: "the materials of interrogation of the population once again have confirmed, that the reality of GL does not cause doubts, as well as that the problem on its parentage prolongs to remain in abeyance".

The analysis of the descriptions of the eyewitnesses has shown, that GL:

Hypothesis of the quantum nature of GL

Phenomena accompanying destruction of GL, such as bang, detonating, large currents, release of a thermal energy are properties of certain formation. These properties would be displayed with natural way by appropriate atmospheric conditions. Analysing properties of GL and characteristic of electrical and magnetic fields of the Earth by a way of simulation of physical processes happening at discharges of LL in atmosphere, it is possible to offer a new hypothesis of the nature of GL.

The deviation of LL from a vertical position is watched regularly. There is it that the conductivity of atmosphere is non-uniform, so far as the chemical composition, density and air humidity is heterogeneous. It is possible also frequently to see, how from the main channel of a lightning the lateral branches spread, which one almost instantly disappear in atmosphere. Some of them find oneself in favorable condition for occurrence of GL. The deviations of LL can take place at blow of it to a surface of the Earth, tree or support of aerial line. What does happen then?

At deviation of LL from a vertical direction eastern or western it is exposed to influence of crossed magnetic and electrical fields of the Earth. Revolving under operation of a magnetic field on a Larmor radius (under operation of forces of the Lorentz), the electrons of plasma in a channel of a lightning are simultaneously pushed by an electrical field from plasma out of boundary of a cloud of positively ionized atoms. If the forces of an electrostatic attraction between ions and electrons appear equal centrifugal, the electrons find themselves on steady quantized (with a quasi-classical approximation) orbit around of a cloud of ions and compress it in the magnetic trap.

Such long-lived formation can have a large spectrum of values of a stored energy (in its several kinds). Its most essential part is made by potential electrostatic energy of disjointed charges.

Let's look, how assumed model of GL conform to conditions of the Earth's atmosphere. Magnetic force lines of the Earth are directed from a north on the south. The magnetic induction of it varies within the limits of 3·10–5...7·10–5 Tl. The vertical electric field tension is equal from 2,5 up to 130 V/m and can reach during a thunderstorm of much more values.

Let us calculate an equilibrium condition of shells on orbits for the most widespread case observed GL of 10 cm in diameter. We shall obtain velocity of electrons on orbits equal 80 m/s (compare, velocity of electrons in a channel of LL – ≤ 105 m/s). A magnetic induction for obtaining a Larmor radius in 5 cm at velocity of electrons 80 m/s should be 10–8 Tl (compare, magnetic field of the Earth – 3·10–5 Tl). Thus, for formation of GL it is necessary, that the velocity of electrons in LL was rather slowed and the magnetic induction of the Earth would be considerably loosed.

The slowing – down of velocity of electrons is quite possible at deviation of a branch of LL from the main channel. As to attenuation of a magnetic induction, it can take place only near to a channel of LL, as outcome of effect of its whirlwind magnetic field, since it represents a current, which one can reach value 4·104 A.

The calculation also displays, that for formation of one electronic shell of GL (adopted size) 2·109 electrons are necessary approximately (outgoing from a Pauli's principle). The GL will be steady against a magnetic field of the Earth, if it has about 103 such shells. In this case ionization of plasma will make up about 1%, that is quite real at such temperatures.

The status of a mater, which one is reached by separation of charges and formation of the steady configuration with motion of electrons in shells around of a cloud of positively ionized atoms, can not be named as plasma any more, as its quasi-neutrality is infringed. At the same time, at destruction of GL the matter again passes a status of plasma. In this case thermal energy is released, which one was conserved by activity of an electrical field in a potential energy of separation of charges and in motion of electrons on orbits.

The conserved energy of magnetic and electrical fields of GL can be released at its destruction not only by the heat.

So, if the width (quantity) of electronic shells is significant, the connection of outside shells with ions' "core" is loosed, and they can originate a powerful impulse of a current, having adjoined with a conductor. In this case GL at first will partially be discharged, and then will collect this charge back. At its full destruction also arise a double impulse of a current: the electron shell is discharged at first, and then the ions of "core" pick up these electrons back and recombine with heat production.

Besides, GL can "work" as the vacuum bomb. The matter is that initial temperature of atoms and ions inside the electron shell, serving as an impenetrable barrier to atoms and electrons (both from inside and outside) can not be conserved long time because of radiation losses. The rarefaction inside the electronic shell will be increased so long, as it will be crushed by a difference of pressure (it determines a lifetime of GL). If thickness of the shell small, shrinkage will happen soft, without the peculiar excesses (as in the majority observable cases), but if this thickness is considerable, shrinkage has character of detonating, causing strong destruction. The detonating happens on a background of an impulse of a current on a conductor and the release of a thermal energy of a recombination of ions.

It is necessary to indicate possible variety of an elemental composition of GL (the color of radiation clearly indicates on it). The velocity of electrons of LL varies in a broad range, therefore, temperature of plasma also has different values, that determines, in turn, what atoms of gases can participate in formation of GL.

The globular lightning is infrequent enough phenomenon since for its occurrence the special premises in an Earth's atmosphere are required. One is not obtained (even incidentally) in lab. Last is feasible only at creation of a number of indispensable conditions, namely:


The literature:

  1. J. Barry. Ball lightning and bead lightning. World, M., 1983.
  2. P.L. Kapitsa. About the nature of a globular lightning. The reports AS USSR, v. 101, #2, p. 245, 1955.
  3. B.M. Smirnov. Processes in a globular lightning. The log-book of technical physics. v47, p. 814, 1977.
  4. I.P. Stakhanov. About the physical nature of a globular lightning. Energy-atom-publishing house, M., 1985.
  5. Blasting out delays. The accumulator cell under edition, Publishing house of the foreign literature V.G. Chase and G.C. Moore, M., 1963.

Is published earlier:

"Science of Kazakhstan", 24 (132), 15...31, December, 1998.

Date of the publication:

June 24, 2000

Electronic version:

© NiT. Current publications, 1997

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