Could mythical 'sprites' be mysterious UFOs?
Scientists at Tel Aviv University in Israel have discovered mysterious flashes, named 'sprites', zipping across the atmosphere, which may explain sightings of UFOs.Updated: Feb 24, 2009 19:11 IST
Scientists at Tel Aviv University in Israel have discovered mysterious flashes, named “sprites”, zipping across the atmosphere, which may well provide a possible explanation for the sightings of UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects).
In legend, sprites are trolls, elves and other spirits that dance high above our ozone layer.
But, scientists at Tel Aviv University have discovered that some very real “sprites” are zipping across the atmosphere as well, providing a possible explanation for those other legendary denizens of the skies, UFOs.
According to Professor Colin Price, head of the Geophysics and Planetary Sciences Department at Tel Aviv University, thunderstorms are the catalyst for a newly discovered natural phenomenon he calls “sprites.”
He and his colleagues are one of the leading teams in the world studying the phenomenon, and Professor Price leads the study of “winter sprites” ¯ those that appear only in the northern hemisphere’s winter months.
“Sprites appear above most thunderstorms, but we didn’t see them until recently. They are high in the sky and last for only a fraction of a second,” explained Professor Price.
While there is much debate over the cause or function of these mysterious flashes in the sky, they may explain some bizarre reports of UFO sightings, he added.
Sprites are described as flashes high in the atmosphere, between 35 and 80 miles from the ground, much higher than the 7 to 10 miles where regular lightning bolts usually occur.
“Lightning from the thunderstorm excites the electric field above, producing a flash of light called a sprite,” explained Prof. Price. “We now understand that only a specific type of lightning is the trigger that initiates sprites aloft,” he added.
Though sprites have existed for millions of years, they were first discovered and documented only by accident in 1989 when a researcher studying stars was calibrating a camera pointed at the distant atmosphere where sprites occur.
“Sprites, which only occur in conjunction with thunderstorms, never occur on their own, and are cousins to similar natural phenomenon dubbed by atmospheric electricians as ‘elves’, ‘goblins’ and ‘trolls’,” Prof. Price said.
These flashes are so named because they appear to “dance” in the sky, which may explain some UFO sightings.
First Published: Feb 24, 2009 19:08 IST