Three sequential photos of a

Most powerful gigantic jet lightning bolt ever

The sky turns dark, a heavy rain falls and a bolt of lightning crackles through the air. But instead of striking down toward the ground, or zipping sideways between clouds, this lightning bolt does something unexpected: It blasts straight upward from the top of the cloud, shooting 50 miles (80 kilometers) into the sky, grazing the lower edge of space.

Bolts like these are called gigantic jets. They are the rarest and most powerful sort of lightning, occurring as few as 1,000 times a year and emitting more than 50 times as much energy as a typical lightning bolt — and now, scientists have just detected the single most powerful gigantic jet yet.

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