External Speaker: Brian Hare (Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, RUG)
The seminar will be done in person and it will be accompanied by sandwiches provided by the VUB.
Lightning is poorly understood. Despite being a well-known phenomena, and an object of study since Benjamin Franklin, we still do not understand how lightning initiates, propagates, or emits intense bursts of gamma rays capable of blinding orbiting satellites. The fundamental difficulties being that lightning is too complex to simulate and is very difficult to observe due to extremely fast time scales and tendency to hide behind obscuring clouds. In order to alleviate these difficulties our research group has learned how to observe lightning with the LOFAR radio telescope, which allows us to measure not just the location and shape of the lightning, but also the meter and nanosecond scale structure of the lightning plasma channels. In this talk I will introduce the science of lightning physics, the open questions, and how we are using the LOFAR radio telescope to advance the field.