Observing High Energy Particles from the Atmosphere: A Different Window on Understanding Atmospheric Dynamics
Prof. Christopher Fasano
Pattee Professor and Chair, Physics and Engineering
The thickest part of the atmosphere of the earth is extends upward from the earth’s surface only about 15 miles (about the distance from Notre Dame to Elkhart). We are utterly dependent on this thin layer of gases for protection from the cold harshness of space as well as for transporting energy on our planet. The physics of the atmosphere and the weather that exists our atmosphere it are extremely interesting and complex. In this colloquium, we will discuss how to observe the dynamics of the atmosphere in a different frequency regime by measuring high energy particles generated by atmospheric phenomena like thunderstorms and lightning. Much like doing astronomy in different wavelengths, we hope to see and understand different atmospheric phenomena by observing the atmosphere in the X-Ray region and beyond. In particular, we know that lightning generates X-Rays and Gamma rays, and by measuring high energy phenomena, we hope to learn about storm development and morphology, as well as understanding the conditions that might lead to weather, severe storms, tornados, and other dramatic phenomena. But as we have learned, an apparently quiet atmosphere appears to hold puzzles and secrets to be discovered. There are also other opportunities for these kinds of observations as well (like volcanic lightning and plume dynamics). And finally, we may find clues on in our own atmosphere to help us understand the atmospheres of other planets where we have already observed lightning, as well as complex dynamics.
Hosted by Prof. Brodeur