Audio long-read: Thundercloud Project tackles a gamma-ray mystery

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Researchers in Japan are trying to understand why thunderstorms fire out bursts of powerful radiation.

Gamma rays – the highest-energy electromagnetic radiation in the universe – are typically created in extreme outer space environments like supernovae. But back in the 1980s and 1990s, physicists discovered a source of gamma rays much closer to home: thunderstorms here on Earth.

Now, researchers in Japan are enlisting an army of citizen scientists to help understand the mysterious process going on inside storm clouds that leads to them creating extreme bursts of radiation.

This is an audio version of our feature: Thunderstorms spew out gamma rays — these scientists want to know why


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