APOD: Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic... (2012 Jul 30)

Comments and questions about the APOD on the main view screen.
User avatar
APOD Robot
Otto Posterman
Posts: 4308
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2009 3:27 am

APOD: Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic... (2012 Jul 30)

Post by APOD Robot » Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:10 am

Image Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic Volcano

Explanation: Why did the picturesque 2010 volcanic eruption in Iceland create so much ash? Although the large ash plume was not unparalleled in its abundance, its location was particularly noticeable because it drifted across such well-populated areas. The Eyjafjallajökull volcano in southern Iceland began erupting on 2010 March 20, with a second eruption starting under the center of a small glacier on 2010 April 14. Neither eruption was unusually powerful. The second eruption, however, melted a large amount of glacial ice which then cooled and fragmented lava into gritty glass particles that were carried up with the rising volcanic plume. Pictured above during the second eruption, lightning bolts illuminate ash pouring out of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano.

<< Previous APOD This Day in APOD Next APOD >>
[/b]

User avatar
Beyond
500 Gigaderps
Posts: 6889
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2009 11:09 am
Location: BEYONDER LAND

Re: APOD: Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic... (2012 Jul

Post by Beyond » Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:24 am

Ashes to ashes and dust to dust. It's the END of the world!, at the end of the world. Has any lightning been seen in the going's on out beyond our solar system, or is it just too small to be seen that far away??
To find the Truth, you must go Beyond.

Boomer12k
:---[===] *
Posts: 2691
Joined: Sun Apr 22, 2007 12:07 am

Re: APOD: Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic... (2012 Jul

Post by Boomer12k » Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:36 am

Ash, Lightning and Ice...Oh my!


Awesome Pic! Thanks.

:---[===] *

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 20666
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: APOD: Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic... (2012 Jul

Post by bystander » Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:41 am

Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
neufer
Vacationer at Tralfamadore
Posts: 18070
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:57 pm
Location: Alexandria, Virginia

the time for Katla to erupt is coming close...

Post by neufer » Mon Jul 30, 2012 7:47 am

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyjafjallaj%C3%B6kull#Relationship_to_Katla wrote:

<<Eyjafjallajökull lies 25 km west of another subglacial volcano, Katla, under the Mýrdalsjökull ice cap, which is much more active and known for its powerful subglacial eruptions and its large magma chamber. Each of the eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in 920, 1612, and 1821–1823 has preceded an eruption of Katla. Katla has not displayed any unusual activity (such as expansion of the crust or seismic activity) during the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull, though geologists have been concerned about the general instability of Katla since 1999. Some geophysicists in Iceland believe that the Eyjafjallajökull eruption may trigger an eruption of Katla, which would cause major flooding due to melting of glacial ice and send up massive plumes of ash. On 20 April 2010 Icelandic President Ólafur Grímsson said "the time for Katla to erupt is coming close...we [Iceland] have prepared...it is high time for European governments and airline authorities all over the world to start planning for the eventual Katla eruption".

Volcanologists continue to monitor Katla, aware that any eruption from Katla following an eruption from Eyjafjallajökull has historically occurred within months of an Eyjafjallajökull eruption. The Icelandic Meteorological Office updates its website with reports of quakes both at Eyjafjallajökull and Katla.>>
Art Neuendorffer

saturno2
Commander
Posts: 700
Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:05 pm

Re: APOD: Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic... (2012 Jul

Post by saturno2 » Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:16 am

A image very special

Guest

Re: APOD: Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic... (2012 Jul

Post by Guest » Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:15 pm

where does the lightning come from? The skies look clear outside of the volcano.

User avatar
orin stepanek
Plutopian
Posts: 6476
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2005 3:41 pm
Location: Nebraska

Re: APOD: Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic... (2012 Jul

Post by orin stepanek » Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:34 pm

'Ti's a beautiful shot of this volcano! 8-)
Orin

Smile today; tomorrow's another day!

User avatar
neufer
Vacationer at Tralfamadore
Posts: 18070
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:57 pm
Location: Alexandria, Virginia

Re: APOD: Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic... (2012 Jul

Post by neufer » Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:18 pm

Guest wrote:
where does the lightning come from? The skies look clear outside of the volcano.
http://geology.com/articles/volcanic-lightning/ wrote:

Photos of Lightning in the Redoubt Volcano Ash Cloud
Images and discussion submitted by Brentwood Higman
of GroundTruthTrekking.org

<<For both of these [Redoubt Volcano] eruptions, the lightning did not begin until several minutes after the explosion began. How lightning forms in general is still debated among scientists, and volcanic lightning is even less well understood. What is mostly agreed upon is that the process starts when particles separate, either after a collision or when a larger particle breaks in two. Then some difference in the aerodynamics of these particles causes the positively charged particles to be systematically separated from the negatively charged particles. Lightning is the electrical flow that results when this charge separation becomes too great for air to resist the flow of electricity. Some of the lighting strokes in these photos are at least 2 miles long, so the separation of charged particles must occur on this scale.>>

Idealized sequence of events that leads to lightning
  • 1. Starting state (particles might have already been charged by some previous process).

    2. Collisions lead to charge separation. For this to happen there has to be some difference in the electrical properties of the particles in the collisions.

    3. Some process, such as aerodynamic sorting, segregates the positively and negatively charged particles. This means that there are sections of the cloud that are more negative or positive than other sections.

    4. When the charge separation becomes too great, electricity will flow between the positive and negative regions of the cloud forming lightning and neutralizing the charge separation.
Last edited by neufer on Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Art Neuendorffer

User avatar
NoelC
Creepy Spock
Posts: 876
Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2005 2:30 am
Location: South Florida, USA; I just work in (cyber)space

Re: APOD: Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic... (2012 Jul

Post by NoelC » Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:20 pm

What a stunning photo!

Lightning in itself is horrific. But next to an erupting volcano it seems almost an afterthought, along the lines of "that's the least you have to worry about today".

Really brings a sense of perspective.

-Noel

User avatar
paulobao
Ensign
Posts: 24
Joined: Sun Jul 25, 2010 12:54 pm

Re: APOD: Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic... (2012 Jul

Post by paulobao » Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:43 pm

Very nice photo indeed! Congratulations to the author who catched a unique moment! This is a National Geography magazine photo and should deserve a prize!
But, since this is the APOD...what about the astronomy element?

Regards,
paulo

User avatar
Indigo_Sunrise
Science Officer
Posts: 438
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 1:40 pm
Location: Md

Re: APOD: Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic... (2012 Jul

Post by Indigo_Sunrise » Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:27 pm

paulobao wrote:But, since this is the APOD...what about the astronomy element?

*DEADHORSE*
*DEADHORSE*
*DEADHORSE*
*DEADHORSE*
Forget the box, just get outside.

User avatar
starstruck
Science Officer
Posts: 177
Joined: Sat Sep 17, 2011 9:37 am

Re: APOD: Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic... (2012 Jul

Post by starstruck » Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:40 pm

It's a stunning image!, hard to believe this is a photograph taken of something occurring on our own planet; it looks so hellishly other-worldly. I particularly like how the lightning bolt illuminates the ash cloud, reminiscent of stars illuminating a nebula. And it's fascinating how the lightning can be generated by the eruption . . super photo!

Dproxima

Re: APOD: Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic... (2012 Jul

Post by Dproxima » Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:30 pm

This image first appears to be taken with less than a 1 sec exposure - otherwise the ash cloud wouldn't be so detailed. So what's with the star trails?

User avatar
starstruck
Science Officer
Posts: 177
Joined: Sat Sep 17, 2011 9:37 am

Re: APOD: Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic... (2012 Jul

Post by starstruck » Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:35 pm

Dproxima wrote:This image first appears to be taken with less than a 1 sec exposure - otherwise the ash cloud wouldn't be so detailed. So what's with the star trails?
It's a time-exposure, but the ash cloud has been illuminated by the brevity of the lightning flash, that's why it shows detail . . just like using a flash on a camera :ssmile:

User avatar
LocalColor
Science Officer
Posts: 266
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2012 9:11 pm
Location: Central Idaho, USA

Re: APOD: Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic... (2012 Jul

Post by LocalColor » Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:57 pm

Awesome. Wonderful photo. Looks like a painting!

celestekentme

Re: APOD: Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic... (2012 Jul

Post by celestekentme » Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:21 pm

I remember Mt. St Helens when it erupted there were bolts of lightning also. There is plenty of static developed in an event like that. Awesome.

500pesos
Ensign
Posts: 29
Joined: Fri Apr 08, 2011 8:46 am

Re: APOD: Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic... (2012 Jul

Post by 500pesos » Thu Aug 02, 2012 1:21 pm

Beyond wrote:Ashes to ashes and dust to dust. It's the END of the world!, at the end of the world. Has any lightning been seen in the going's on out beyond our solar system, or is it just too small to be seen that far away??
We can expect lightning occuring only on planets, or large moons with their own atmosphere. Exoplanets, i.e. planets beyond our solar system, have been detected, but none of them has been directly imaged (distance too great, plus the glare of the parent start I suppose) and of course neither has the lightning - or anything else - that may occur on their surface.
On the other hand, there is definitely extra-terrestrial lightning happening within our solar system : http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap110708.html

User avatar
Chris Peterson
Abominable Snowman
Posts: 15936
Joined: Wed Jan 31, 2007 11:13 pm
Location: Guffey, Colorado, USA

Re: APOD: Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic... (2012 Jul

Post by Chris Peterson » Thu Aug 02, 2012 2:39 pm

500pesos wrote:We can expect lightning occuring only on planets, or large moons with their own atmosphere. Exoplanets, i.e. planets beyond our solar system, have been detected, but none of them has been directly imaged (distance too great, plus the glare of the parent start I suppose) and of course neither has the lightning - or anything else - that may occur on their surface.
Several exoplanets have been directly imaged, although their surfaces cannot be spatially resolved. In principle, we could detect lightning on an unresolved exoplanet (just as we could detect atmospheric chemistry) simply by observing characteristic spectral signatures. In practice, I doubt any planet would have bright enough lightning to rise above the background noise floor imposed by the glare of the planet's star, the glow of the planet itself, and the instrumental noise.
Chris

*****************************************
Chris L Peterson
Cloudbait Observatory
http://www.cloudbait.com

User avatar
neufer
Vacationer at Tralfamadore
Posts: 18070
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:57 pm
Location: Alexandria, Virginia

Re: APOD: Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic... (2012 Jul

Post by neufer » Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:43 pm

http://news.discovery.com/earth/jupiter-saturn-venus-lightning.html wrote:
The Lightning Planets: Earth, Jupiter, Saturn and now Venus
By Larry O'Hanlon, Discovery News, Nov 23, 2009

The Scoop: No matter what planet you're on, lightning is about storms, and about ice and rain -- even if it's not necessarily water rain. I spoke with Timothy Dowling of the University of Louisville about some of the strange places lightning is made on other planets, and why lightning matters at all, in a planetary sense...

larryohanlon: Hello!

tedow: I think we are good to go.

larryohanlon: Well thanks again for your willingness to do this, and putting up with my chaotic morning. So I was referred to you because you study lightning on other planets. Is that right?

tedow: I'm a planetary scientist, and my specialty is planetary atmospheres. Lightning is a very specific subject. I develop an atmospheric model, the EPIC model, that simulates the gas giants (and the other planets). We added clouds to the model a couple of years ago (but not lightning!)

larryohanlon: But there is lightning on other planets, right?

tedow: Yes! Jupiter has amazing lightning. We can see it on the dark side. Both Voyager and Galileo saw large lightning flashes on Jupiter, and we've correlated it with convective storm activity in low-pressure regions.

larryohanlon: The dark side -- which we can only see with spacecraft, right, since we generally only see Jupiter's sunny side here in the inner solar system?

tedow: That's right. Even the Hubble Space Telescope only gets a sunny view of the gas giants. Spacecraft also can detect lightning indirectly, by the telltale signatures of radio and magnetic pulses it generates.

larryohanlon: Is it possible to compares Jupiter's lightning to Earth's in any way?

tedow: Yes, we have learned a great deal by intercomparing the lightning on Earth and Jupiter. Jupiter's water clouds are at a higher pressure, 5 bar, compared to 0.5-1 bar on Earth. And gravity is much stronger on Jupiter, which results in rain falling much faster. Add to this that the dry air on Jupiter is very light, just hydrogen and helium, whereas water is much heavier, and you have a recipe for very strong thunderstorms.

larryohanlon: So it's like the old fur rubbing a plastic comb thing we did in school to tear off electrons, only more so?

tedow: Exactly like that. I love rubbing balloons and sticking them on the wall. I think one of the most interesting aspects of all the atmospheres in the solar system is that the "ceiling", meaning the top of the troposphere and start of the stratosphere, is at 100 hPa (equals 100 mbar or 0.1 bar) on all the planets. This sets the top of all thunderstorms. On the other hand, the bottom depends on the temperature of the planet. Jupiter's thunderstorms are much taller than Earth's, because the water is seated where the air is 'room temperature' which is at 5 bar. The result is towering thunderstorms that are 3 times taller than the tallest cumulus towers on Earth.

larryohanlon: So Jupiter's storms are both super charged from those density and gravity differences, but scaled larger too. Wow, I'd think some meteorologists would be into studying this too. Has anything been seen like this on Saturn. I know I've heard it's harder to see what's happening in Saturn's atmosphere.

tedow: Saturn has giant lightning, too, but we haven't seen it directly yet. Being farther from the Sun and therefore colder, its water clouds are even deeper into the planet. But, we have seen the radio waves that are clearly from lightning storms. And, we see the convective clouds. There is a very active "storm alley" in Saturn's southern hemisphere at 35degS latitude.

larryohanlon: Cool! Would it pretty much work the same way on Saturn then? Same mechanism behind the lightning?

tedow: Yes. At least, that is what we surmise! On Earth, lightning requires both the liquid and solid (water and ice) phases, and we assume this holds for the planets as well. And, even though these planets have other types of clouds, namely ammonia and a mixture of ammonia and sulfur, those cloud types do not have nearly the same latent-heat kick that water has. Water is truly a special substance. That is why detecting lightning on the gas giants is so exciting, it implies plenty of water.

larryohanlon: That was my next question -- you beat me to it. Whether methane or another "rainable" compound could make lightning elsewhere.

tedow: In our present-day Solar System, Titan and Earth are the only wet "terrestrial planets", meaning planets where a person could stand (Jupiter and the other gas giants have no solid land!). And, Titan has monsoons and giant convective clouds. But, to my knowledge, the Cassini spacecraft, which has encountered Titan dozens of times now, has yet to detect any lightning signatures on Titan.

larryohanlon: Venus is too dry then. And I guess Mars. Weird that Earth has lightning in common with the gas giants.

tedow: Ah, but it doesn't have to be water. Venus does have lightning! This was suspected but not verified for decades. Only with the currently active Venus Express Mission by the European Space Agency has a clear lightning signature finally been detected on Venus. The magnetic detector on Venus Express has now seen 100 Hz pulses that last a fraction of a second. The best estimate now is that cloud-to-cloud lightning is occurring on Venus a good 25% of the time. What we really need, though, is a photograph!

larryohanlon: Whoa! What causes it on Venus? I' guessing it'd have to be speculation at this point.

tedow: Yes, it isn't clear what the lightning mechanism is on Venus, but it is very intriguing! Venus has an amazingly deep atmosphere, with a bottom pressure of 90 bar and a surface temperature hotter than a pizza oven. And, it has very strong wind shears that seem to change with time. The tannish-yellow color of the clouds on Venus are from sulfuric acid, so there is plenty of liquid drops of an exotic nature.

larryohanlon: So water is not likely the culprit in Venus' case, right? Way more exotic case?

tedow: Water vapor is present in the Venus atmosphere, but it is at an extremely low humidity. Probably we are taking about a slightly different mechanism than on Earth/Jupiter.

larryohanlon: In any case, lightning sounds like a window into a planet's atmosphere, even when all you get is a radio signal of it. Are you able to get data from Jupiter from radio telescopes? I mean, you aren't limited to what spacecraft tell you, are you?

tedow: Yes, Jupiter is a strong emitter at essentially every wavelength useful to astronomers, including being one of the strongest radio sources in the sky. If you could see Jupiter's magnetic field, it would be the size of the full moon in the sky---the biggest object in the solar system (Saturn actually passed through Jupiter's magnetotail during the Voyager encounter!).

larryohanlon: Gulp!

tedow: But, when it comes to lightning, by far the best data come from close encounters with spacecraft.

larryohanlon: And I haven't heard of any new spacecraft plans for Jupiter/Saturn. Are there any?

tedow: We have one major spacecraft to Jupiter nearly ready to launch, called the Juno mission. This mission will fly very close to Jupiter in order to detect and map the details of the gravity and magnetic field. This will allow us to reconstruct in some detail the internal structure of Jupiter, including telling us how deep its famous belts and zones (jet streams) go into the planet.

larryohanlon: That sounds major. Jupiter has always been the easiest planet to admire with my telescope, but the most mysterious because it seems we only know it in a skin-deep kind of way. So I'm guessing you and your colleagues have a million questions that Juno could help answer.

tedow: An alien astronomer studying our Solar System would quickly realize that Jupiter contains more planetary mass than all the other planets combined. Still, he/she/it would probably be very intrigued by that one pale-blue dot between Venus and Mars.
2:07 PM Yes, Juno will be a major advance in gas-giant science. Fortunately, we will also get something similar from Saturn, because the "extended extended" mission of Cassini, in orbit around Saturn, has "Juno" type observations.

larryohanlon: Wow. Didn't know that about Cassini. I heard that New Horizon's made a pass on it's way to Pluto.

tedow: Yes, we get a free Jupiter encounter with each and every outer-planet mission, because it is always used to gain a large gravity assist. Each spacecraft has a camera on it that is obsolete! Meaning, it is designed and space-rated years before it is flown. Voyager's cameras were not nearly as good as the cameras on most people's cell phones. But, the view was better!

larryohanlon: New Horizon's will be downright ancient by the time it reaches Pluto then!

tedow: Ah, but the view will be magnificent. Location, location, location!

larryohanlon: I''m sure looking forward to it! Hey I know we're coming on an hour, so should wrap up. Any last thoughts about extraterrestrial lightning that you'd like to leave readers with?

tedow: We've discovered several hundred planets outside our Solar System, with more being discovered every few months. And, we have every reason to expect to find planets with plenty of water on them. One of the critical aspects of lightning is its effect on chemistry. How important is it to the formation of life for there to be lightning on a planet? We might someday actually be able to answer that question.

larryohanlon: Thanks for raising the chemistry matter. Lightning is still considered part of the formula for life, last I heard.

tedow: Gotta get that zap from somewhere! Thanks for the chat, it was great. -Tim

larryohanlon: thank you!
Art Neuendorffer