Geophysical Research Letters
This study investigates a possible physical mechanism responsible for the occurrence of the luminous trail of sprite streamers, which is also known as "afterglow." According to streamer modeling results, when sprite streamers propagate with expansion, acceleration and brightening, the total current flowing through the streamer body also increases. The increasing current results in the rise of the electric field in the streamer channel far behind the streamer head, which leads to effective production of N₂ excited states by electron impact excitation and then the glowing trail.
Liu, Ningyu, "Model Of Sprite Luminous Trail Caused By Increasing Streamer Current" (2010). Aerospace, Physics, and Space Science Faculty Publications. 500.