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Breakdown: Ball lightning- What it is & why it’s so rare

Updated: Dec. 8, 2020 at 11:20 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Ball lightning is a rare type of lightning where a glowing orb appears in the sky and moves horizontally for several seconds before disappearing.

It typically appears before or after a lightning strike during a thunderstorm. Due to the movement of this glowing ball in the sky, some people have confused this with a UFO sighting.

Reports of ball lightning stretch all the way back to ancient Greece, so this is not a new phenomena. It has been studied by scientists and many theories exist on the topic.

In 2012, a team of Chinese scientists accidentally captured ball lightning on camera and also measured the contents of the orb with spectographs. They found that soil elements existed within the orb, which helped verify a previous theory. This theory states that a lightning strike vaporizes chemicals within the soil, which then mixes with oxygen in the air and glows.

Then in 2018, physicists recreated a ball of energy in a lab that resembles ball lightning. They found that the magnetic field became knotted around itself, which caused the energy to grow in a ball shape.

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