The spectroscopy of individual terrestrial gamma-ray flashes: Constraining the source properties

Academic Article


  • AbstractWe report on the spectral analysis of individual terrestrial gamma‐ray flashes (TGFs) observed with the Fermi Gamma‐ray Burst Monitor (GBM). The large GBM TGF sample provides 46 events suitable for individual spectral analysis: sufficiently bright, localized by ground‐based radio, and with the gamma rays reaching a detector unobstructed. These TGFs exhibit diverse spectral characteristics that are hidden when using summed analysis methods. We account for the low counts in individual TGFs by using Poisson likelihood, and we also consider instrumental effects. The data are fit with models obtained from Monte Carlo simulations of the large‐scale Relativistic Runaway Electron Avalanche (RREA) model, including propagation through the atmosphere. Source altitudes ranging from 11.6 to 20.2 km are simulated. Two beaming geometries were considered: In one, the photons retain the intrinsic distribution from scattering (narrow), and in the other, the photons are smeared into a wider beam (wide). Several TGFs are well fit only by narrow‐beam models, while others favor wide‐beam models. Large‐scale RREA models can accommodate both narrow and wide beams, with narrow beams suggest large‐scale RREA in organized electric fields while wide beams may imply converging or diverging electric fields. Wide beams are also consistent with acceleration in the electric fields of lightning leaders, but the TGFs that favor narrow‐beam models appear inconsistent with some lightning leader models.
  • Authors

  • Mailyan, BG
  • Briggs, MS
  • Cramer, ES
  • Fitzpatrick, G
  • Roberts, OJ
  • Stanbro, M
  • Connaughton, V
  • McBreen, S
  • Bhat, PN
  • Dwyer, Joseph
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • November 2016
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 11346
  • End Page

  • 11363
  • Volume

  • 121
  • Issue

  • 11