Gamma-ray bursts are actually common in storms
J Thoendell stashed this in Space
Until recently, it was thought that gamma-ray bursts were only found in deep space.
“These are big, monster bursts of gamma rays, and one would think these must be monster storms producing them - but that's not the case”
Prof Joseph DwyerUniversity of New Hampshire
The pulses of high-energy light are hurled out when giant stars explode or black holes or neutron stars merge.
But in the 1990s, scientists found that these events also occur in the Earth's atmosphere during storms, although it was thought they were rare.
Now, new research has revealed that almost every type of storm - no matter what its strength - produces these invisible explosions.
The Fermi space telescope measured the outbursts rising up and out of the atmosphere, while lightning arrays down on Earth helped scientists to pinpoint the types of storms that were producing them.
Prof Joseph Dwyer, from the University of New Hampshire in the US, told the BBC: "These are big, monster bursts of gamma rays, and one would think these must be monster storms producing them.
"But that's not the case. Even boring-looking, garden-variety, little storms can produce these.
"Any kind of storm seems to produce these terrestrial gamma-ray flashes."