Ionosphere and Upper Atmosphere
Terrestrial gamma ray flash production by lightning current pulses
Article first published online: 19 DEC 2009
Copyright 2009 by the American Geophysical Union.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics (1978–2012)
Volume 114, Issue A12, December 2009
How to Cite
2009), Terrestrial gamma ray flash production by lightning current pulses, J. Geophys. Res., 114, A00E08, doi:10.1029/2009JA014531., , and (
- Issue published online: 19 DEC 2009
- Article first published online: 19 DEC 2009
- Manuscript Accepted: 28 AUG 2009
- Manuscript Revised: 28 JUL 2009
- Manuscript Received: 4 JUN 2009
- terrestrial gamma ray flashes;
 Terrestrial gamma ray flashes (TGFs) are brief bursts of gamma rays observed by satellites, typically in coincidence with detectable lightning. We incorporate TGF observations and the key physics behind current TGF production theories with lightning physics to produce constraints on TGF production mechanisms. The combined constraints naturally suggest a mechanism for TGF production by current pulses in lightning leader channels. The mechanism involves local field enhancements due to charge redistribution in current pulses and draws seed energetic particles from cold runaway in breakdown processes. The mechanism can reproduce the observed TGF time scale including multipulse TGFs, is in agreement with existing production altitude estimates, and may help explain TGF spectra by naturally producing unbeamed emissions.