VIDEO: Huge red elven lightning spotted in Tibet, China

In the early hours of May 20, a Chinese photographer captured a rare atmospheric glow in the Himalayas of Tibet (see video above). This phenomenon is called red elven lightning, which suddenly appeared in the middle layer of the atmosphere, as if groups of jellyfish were wandering from the clouds, like a carefully arranged firework.


This phenomenon, discovered only in the 1990s, although called lightning, is not the same as ordinary lightning, it is closer to the conditions for triggering auroras and is called transient luminescence. It used to be called lightning in the upper atmosphere. The previous name explains how it occurs. In fact, this is one of the various types of discharge phenomena induced in the upper atmosphere.


Elven lightning is a large-scale electrical discharge that occurs in a high-altitude thunderstorm system above an active hanging laminar region of precipitation. They are a special kind of electrical breakdown. Red elven lightning appears as a bright red-orange plasma-like flash that lasts a few milliseconds longer than normal. Spectroscopic measurements have determined that the elves' red color is due to the optical fluorescence of neutral molecular nitrogen in the air.


Red elven lightning has a complex internal structure with vertical stripes, resulting in a wide variety of visual forms. They usually form two descending "arms" that can extend up to about 50 kilometers and up to about 90 kilometers.