Researchers at the Florida Institute of Technology have snapped stunning images of lightning at 7,000 frames per second while testing a new high-speed camera.
The camera will be used to gain a better understanding of jets, gigantic jets and starters projecting upwards from thunderstorms in the upper atmosphere. It was trained on a thunderstorm close to the university's Melbourne campus during tests when it captured the images.
Although operating at 7,000 fps when Professor Ningyu Liu captured the lightning, the footage has been adjusted to 700 fps for playback. We see fingers of lightning break from the clouds and edge towards the earth, before one hits the ground and explodes in a flash.
Cloud-to-ground lightning is caused by a buildup of negatively-charged air at the bottom of storm clouds. As it rushes toward the ground, the lightning repels other negatively charged particles, attracting positive charges from the ground below.
The footage is courtesy of the Geospace Physics Laboratory, Department of Physics and Space Sciences, Florida Institute of Technology.