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  1. Runaway electron acceleration is the keystone process responsible for the production of energetic radiation by lightning and thunderstorms. In the laboratory, it remains undetermined if runaway electrons are merely a consequence of high electric fields produced at the ionization fronts of electrical discharges, or if they impact the discharge formation and propagation. In this work, we simulate photon pileup in a detector next to a spark gap. We compare laboratory measurements to ensembles of monoenergetic electron beam simulations performed with Geant4 (using the Monte Carlo method). First, we describe the x-ray emission properties of monoenergetic beams with initial energies in the 20 to 75 keV range. Second, we introduce a series of techniques to combine monoenergetic beams to produce general-shape electron energy spectra. Third, we proceed to attempt to fit the experimental data collected in the laboratory, and to discuss the ambiguities created by photon pileup and how it constrains the amount of information that can be inferred from the measurements. We show that pileup ambiguities arise from the fact that every single monoenergetic electron beam produces photon deposited energy spectra of similar qualitative shape and that increasing the electron count in any beam has the same qualitative effect of shifting the peak of the deposited energy spectrum toward higher energies. The best agreement between simulations and measurements yields a mean average error of 8.6% and a R-squared value of 0.74. 
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  2. Abstract

    The dissonant development of positive and negative lightning leaders is a central question in atmospheric electricity. It is also the likely root cause of other reported asymmetries between positive and negative lightning flashes, including the ones regarding: stroke multiplicity, recoil activity, leader velocities, and emission of energetic radiation. In an effort to contrast lightning leaders of different polarities, we highlight the staggering differences between two rocket‐triggered lightning flashes. The flash beginning with upward positive leaders exhibits an initial continuous current stage followed by multiple sequences of dart leaders and return strokes. On the other, in its opposite‐polarity counterpart, the upward development of negative leaders is by itself the entire flash. As a result, the flash with negative leaders is faster, briefer, transfers less charge to the ground, has lower currents, and smaller spatial extent. We conclude by presenting a discussion on the three fundamental leader propagation modes.

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