Lightning is essentially a giant spark of static electricity, though much about how and why it forms remains unknown and the subject of scientific research. It is known that lightning occurs in thunderstorms when there is a separation of electrical charge within the storm clouds, which can cause cloud-to-cloud lightning, the majority of lightning that occurs in a storm. A charge separation can also form between thunderstorm clouds and the ground, leading to classic cloud-to-ground lightning. Thunder is the acoustic shock wave that results from the heat that a lightning strike produces. NASA research suggests that lightning flashes 40 times a second around the globe. Read about the latest lightning research and see amazing lightning photos below.
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'Whistling' Volcanic Lightning Heard Halfway Around the World
Mount Redoubt lightning
July 24th, 2014
Eerie radio signals called whistlers have been detected from volcanic lightning for the first time.
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Solar Winds Linked to Increased Lightning Strikes
lightning strikes during a thunderstorm
May 14th, 2014
A new study finds in an increase in lightning strikes after large solar winds. The findings suggest that particles from the sun may interact with the atmosphere to make lightning more likely.
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Why Eerie Green Lightning Zapped an Erupting Volcano
Green lightning strikes an erupting Chilean volcano
December 9th, 2013
A storm of charged particles coursing through a volcanic ash cloud sparked the spectacular green lightning snapped in a pair of photos at Chile's Chaiten Volcano in 2008.
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Origin of Mysterious Jellyfish Lightning 'Sprites' Revealed
A red sprite with a classic jellyfish shape
May 9th, 2014
The origin of the mysterious reddish lighting above thunderstorms, known as atmospheric sprites, has long puzzled scientists, but they now have some idea how it forms.
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Electrocution: New Way to Erode Mountains
Drakensberg mountains
October 25th, 2013
The piles of angular, jumbled rocks that mark mountain summits result from powerful explosions sparked by lightning, a new study shows.
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Is a Car Really a Safe Place to Be When Lightning Strikes?
lightning, tips
September 4th, 2013
Some people may think that the rubber tires on a car help protect a driver and occupants from a lightning strike, but it is a myth.
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Lightning Strike Launches Storm Chaser into Sky (Incredible Video)
May 28th, 2014
The video shows dust and dirt shooting up into the air after the current from the lightning passed through Scott Sheppard's body and hit the ground. The end of the footage shows the hole that was left in the pavement. Sheppard survived the strike.
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Incredible Technology: How to Map a Lightning Strike
lightning over oregon
October 14th, 2013
The science of lightning detection has improved dramatically since Ben Franklin flew his kite in a thunderstorm in 1752. Researchers can now predict conditions that precede a bolt from the blue, and track the location and strength of a strike while it's o
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