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Atmospheric Electricity Observations by the Telescope Array Surface Detector
In this talk I will present the recent breakthroughs in the study of atmospheric electricity using the Telescope Array detector (TA), the largest Ultra High Energy Cosmic Ray (UHECR) experiment in the Northern Hemisphere. These observations enabled scientists, for the first time, to report a direct correlation of downward gamma-ray flashes occurring within the first millisecond of intra-cloud discharge. The observed correlations closely tie the phenomenon to the, satellite-detected, Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes (TGFs). Thus, providing key information on their origins, and the nature of the breakdown processes at work in atmospheric lightning. I will also discuss the status of the current search related to observing the optical component of the Downward directed TGFs. Another observation of interest is the possible effect of thunderstorms on the development of the low-energy cosmic ray showers at the TA site; These observations allow us to study the electric field inside thunderstorms on a large scale, removing the limitations of short time exposure and narrow spatial coverage inherent in detections made using balloon and aircraft borne detectors which can lead to a better understanding of the physical mechanisms that initiate lightning.
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