Atmospheric short circuit causes lightning and luminous balls
In 2012, the world saw the final proof of the existence of ball lightning, when scientists recorded ball lightning and observed, how it was born by lightning. But not until now, scientists have confirmed an about 20-year-old theory abut how the balls are keptstable by magnetic lines in plasma – by recreating the process in plasma’s freezing contrast.
1 In large clouds, charged precipitation particles are separated, as the positive ones are light and rise, whereas the negative ones are heavy and fall. The ground is positively charged, as the bottom of the cloud repels negative charges, causing a voltage difference.
2 The negative cloud and the positive ground attract. A thin channel of highly ionized air stretches from the cloud to the ground and vice versa. When they meet, the result is a short circuit, which causes an electric connection between cloud and ground.
3 The short circuit means that the cloud is no longer insulated from the ground, and the result is a huge spark – what we call lightning – between the two. Where lightning strikes, the ground is heated to about 30,000 degrees for a few milliseconds.
5 In the air, oxygen is added to the silicon bubble. The process generates energy (heat and light) – ball lightning. According to scientists, the ball is stable due to magnetic rings in the bubble.
4 The heat makes carbon in the ground steal oxygen from silicon oxide, which makes up the majority of sand in the ground. The process results in silicon, which rises as an extremely hot bubble.