Ion runaway in lightning discharges
Journal article, 2013
Runaway ions can be produced in plasmas with large electric fields, where the accelerating electric force is augmented by the low mean ionic charge due to the imbalance between the number of electrons and ions. Here we derive an expression for the high-energy tail of the ion distribution function in lightning discharges and investigate the energy range that the ions can reach. We also estimate the corresponding energetic proton and neutron production due to fusion reactions.