Lightning is awesome and today the Department of Awesome Natural Phenomena presents a form of lightning we’d never heard of before: blue jet lightning. This is a form of upper-atmospheric lightning, believed to be electrically induced forms of luminous plasma. It’s also known as a transient luminous event (or TLE) because the various types of electrical-discharge phenomena in the upper atmosphere lack several characteristics of the more familiar tropospheric lightning.
This stunning photo of blue jet lightning was captured by pilot and photographer Thijs Bors while flying over the Northern Territory of Australia during a thunderstorm. Blue jet lightning typically occurs in a narrow cone, projecting from the top of cumulonimbus clouds above a thunderstorm to the lowest levels of the ionosphere 40 to 50 km (25 to 30 miles) above the earth.