(meteorobs) Meteor plasma / ionization question

Chris Peterson clp at alumni.caltech.edu
Fri Oct 28 14:12:13 EDT 2011

Hi Tom-

Naturally occurring "cold" plasmas are still hot- the term usually just 
means that only a small fraction of the gas is actually ionized (thus, 
the bulk gas might be cold, even though the electron temperature is 
still high). I'd be cautious using the terms "hot" and "cold" with 
respect to plasmas unless you provide some qualifying information about 
just what that means.

I don't think that the ion temperatures encountered in sprites are 
different from those encountered in meteor trails. Either way, you have 
thermally excited atoms.


Chris L Peterson
Cloudbait Observatory

On 10/28/2011 11:41 AM, Thomas Ashcraft wrote:
> I am writing a paper on transient luminous events, specifically red
> sprites and am wondering if this sentence is correct:
> "Sprites also create a form of plasma ionization although it may differ
> from meteor ionization in that it is supposedly a cold plasma (
> fluorescence?) rather than the hot plasma of meteors. In any case, the
> sprite ionization proves to be reflective of very high frequency radio
> waves."
> I am assuming that meteor plasma is hot but is this actually the case?
> Thanks for your reply in advance.
> Thomas Ashcraft - New Mexico

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