Ball lightning: How are they formed?

According to some Chinese researchers:

These strange balls of electricity are seen during intense thunderstorms as glowing orbs. They can be yellow, white, red, orange, purple or green and accounts report them passing through glass windows without leaving a hole.

How can the shape of lightning be sphere? How does it form?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Seriously though, wikipedia presents the proposed scientific explanations. There is no accepted one $\endgroup$
    – Jim
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 17:33
  • $\begingroup$ Last seen and captured in the video by some Chinese researchers... I can't understand how a lightning which takes irregular path can form a hot ball ? $\endgroup$
    – user36790
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 17:36
  • $\begingroup$ Which Chinese researchers? $\endgroup$
    – Qmechanic
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 17:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Qmechanic: Sir, even I don't know. I got this from Knowledge, a BBC magazine . $\endgroup$
    – user36790
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 18:01

1 Answer 1


Ball lightning appears as glowing orbs that seem to occur during thunderstorms, usually following a lightning strike.They can be white, yellow, orange, red or blue in color.

There's no scientific explanation for balls of lightning, although there are several proposed theories. The most popular current theory, proposed by John Abrahamson at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, suggests that ball lightning is the result of a chemical reaction of silicon particles burning in the air.

When lightning strikes the ground, silicon that occurs naturally in soil combines with oxygen and carbon and turns into pure silicon vapor. As the vapor cools, the silicon condenses into a fine dust. The particles in this fine dust are attracted to each other by the electrical charge created by the lightning strike, binding together into a ball.


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