Pilot system development in metre-scale laboratory discharge

P. Kochkin, N.G. Lehtinen, A.P.J. van Deursen, N. Østgaard

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The pilot system development in metre-scale negative laboratory discharges is studied with ns-fast photography. The systems appear as bipolar structures in the vicinity of the negative high-voltage electrode. They appear as a result of a single negative streamer propagation and determine further discharge development. Such systems possess features like glowing beads, bipolarity, different brightness of the top and bottom parts, and mutual reconnection. A 1D
model of the ionization evolution in the spark gap is proposed. In the process of the nonlinear development of ionization growth, the model shows features similar to those observed. The visual similarities between high-altitude sprites and laboratory pilots are striking and may indicate that they are two manifestations of the same natural phenomenon.
Original languageEnglish
Article number425203
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
VolumeJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Issue number49
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2016


  • discharge, pilot system, sprite, ionization front, modeling, streamer, encounter


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