Reassessing the BATSE Catalogue of Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes 

by Amanda Sleinkofer

 

Terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs) are bursts of gamma-ray flashes that last up to a millisecond and are observed by a spacecraft within a few hundred kilometers of the source of the gamma-ray. Since TGFs were discovered by the Burst and Transient Source Experiment (BATSE) on NASA’s Compton Gamma-ray Observatory (CGRO) in the 1990s, other observations have increased our knowledge of TGFs (Fisherman et al., 1994). This improved understanding includes characteristics such as the distributions of geographic locations, pulse durations, pulse shapes, and pulse multiplicities. Using this post-BATSE knowledge, we reassessed the BATSE TGF catalogue (http://gammaray.nsstc.nasa.gov/batse/tgf/). Some BATSE triggers have features that can easily be identified as a TGF, while others display different features that are unusual for TGFs. The BATSE triggers of the TGF catalogue were classified into five categories: TGFs, Terrestrial Electron Beams (TEBs), unusual TGFs, uncertain due to insufficient data, and TEB candidates. The triggers with unusual features will be further investigated. A table of our classifications and comments will be added to the online catalogue.

About the Author

Amanda is a senior meteorology major with minors in mathematics and physics. Her career aspirations include finishing her undergraduate degree and moving on to graduate school for a master’s degree. She is interested in learning more about climate research and intends on going to graduate school for paleoclimatology, climatology, or glaciology. After graduate school, Amanda plans on starting her career. This research experience has increased her knowledge and research skills in atmospheric sciences. The program helped her develop research skills such as computer programing, data analysis techniques, and gaining more teamwork skills. These newly gained skills will assist in succeeding in graduate school and in the work force.

Amanda participated in a summer research experience for undergraduates (REU) program in Huntsville, Alabama. She was at the University of Alabama in Huntsville for ten weeks working on a summer research project, particularly terrestrial gamma-ray flashes.

The project she worked on was reassessing the BATSE catalogue of terrestrial gamma-ray flashes. For the project, she and her advisor, Dr. Michael S. Briggs, looked at the original catalogue of terrestrial gamma-ray flashes because other observations have increased their knowledge of TGFs since the 1990s. This improved understanding includes characteristics such as distributions of geographic locations, pulse durations, pulse shapes, and pulse multiplicities. They used the characteristics, Optical Transient Detector and Lightning Imaging Sensor data along with IDL programming to reach our findings. They met their goals in categorizing a more refined BATSE catalogue and they gained a better understanding of the BATSE catalogue.