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Transient Ionospheric Glow Emission in Red
an extraterrestrial source of the event cannot be discounted
The researchers indicate that further space-based observations may be able to detect similar instances of such emissions and help to solve the mystery of its cause.
We report an observation of an unusual transient luminous event (TLE) detected in the near IR, south of Madagascar above the Indian Ocean. The event was imaged from the space shuttle Columbia during the MEIDEX sprite campaign [ Yair et al., 2004 ]. It was delayed 0.23 seconds from a preceding visual lightning flash which was horizontally displaced >1000 km from the event. The calculated brightness in the 860 (±50) nm filter was ∼310 ± 30 kR, and the morphology of the emitting volume did not resemble any known class of TLE (i.e., sprites, ELVES or halos). This TIGER event (Transient Ionospheric Glow Emission in Red) may constitute a new class of TLE, not necessarily induced by a near-by thunderstorm. We discuss possible generation mechanisms, including the conjugate sprite hypothesis caused by lightning at the magnetic mirror point, lightning-induced electron precipitation and an extraterrestrial source, meteoric or cometary.