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.
Bright flashes in the clouds of Venus once thought to be lightning strikes may have a cosmic origin.
An astronomer in Slovakia captured the rare luminous phenomenon as it briefly flashed in Earth's upper atmosphere during a thunderstorm.
Gigantic jets, which are 50 times more powerful than typical lightning bolts and can reach the edge of space, were seen erupting out of Hurricane Franklin near Puerto Rico.
Stunning first videos from a new space-borne instrument designed to improve the monitoring of thunderstorms show the crackle of lightning over Europe, Africa and the Atlantic Ocean.
The plume generated during the 2022 Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcanic eruption in Tonga created the perfect conditions for a "supercharged" lightning storm.
The photographer combined individual images collected over a 50-minute period during an intense thunderstorm in Turkey.
An enormous red halo of light flashed in the night sky above Italy before disappearing within milliseconds. It was likely caused by an electromagnetic pulse from a nearby thunderstorm.
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