Lightning Storms Unleash Hulk-Level Gamma Rays, New Research Finds


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Urbana, IL – In a revelation that could excite any comic book fan, researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have identified that lightning from storms across the United States is capable of producing gamma radiation—similar to the type that transformed Bruce Banner into the Hulk.

Detailed by Duane Friend in the Illinois Extension’s “All About Weather” blog on April 30, 2024, this study highlights how terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs) are generated during thunderstorms.

The research explains that these TGFs occur when intense electrical fields in thunderstorms accelerate electrons to high speeds. These electrons then interact with nitrogen nuclei in the air, emitting gamma rays into space. While the concept might echo a superhero origin story, these gamma rays are fortunately too far removed from the ground to pose any risk to humans, occurring well above the cruising altitudes of commercial flights.

This intriguing discovery not only broadens our understanding of the dynamic processes within thunderstorms but also paints a vivid picture of the hidden powers of our atmosphere.

For more insights that go beyond ordinary weather forecasts, keep up with Duane Friend’s engaging posts on the “All About Weather” blog.

Shane Saathoff
Shane Saathoff
An active writer for two decades, Shane's focuses on local news and events throughout the area, Shane is an active historian, science nerd, and tech geek. Shane is a native of Bourbonnais, IL, and alumni of Olivet Nazarene University.


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