Scientists have known for a while that lightning emits radiation but they haven’t known how, or from where. To study the phenomenon researchers in Florida built an x-ray camera capable of taking ten million images per second:
Making a camera capable of taking such quick images was an achievement in and of itself, Dwyer emphasized.
“You can’t just go buy a camera and point it at lightning,” he said. “We had to make it.”
Because lightning moves blindingly fast, the camera was required to take ten million images per second.
One challenge in taking such fast pictures is storing the data. To do so, the x-ray detector had to take pictures at a relatively low resolution of 30 pixels, which produced images on a crude, hexagonal grid.
Turns out almost all of the radiation is in the tip of the bolt.