Eli5 What is lightening and how does it happen?


What is lightening? What causes the light and sound?

In: Physics

Lightening is when something becomes lighter

Lightning is when a very high voltage builds up in the clouds, which rips the electrons in the air off and causes them to move, prompting a huge amount of energy to be released as these electrons bash against atoms. This heats the air up to ludicrous temperatures, which causes it to glow blue-hot, and due to this heat the air also suddenly expands like an explosion which creates a very loud noise.

Lightning is an electrical balancing act where air gets so hot it turns into plasma, and when that plazmafied air cools off and retracts it pulls the surrounding air in. Where the lightning was is a ‘tunnel’ of low pressure. This difference gets balanced, because the surrounding air rushes in and causes the thunder sound, since the air rushing in hits itself.