Lighting temperature

A bolt of lightning can reach temperatures of roughly 30,000 kelvins (53,540 degrees Fahrenheit).

The sun, on the other hand, is eclipsed in this case – its surface temperature is just 6,000 kelvins (10,340 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s one amazing piece of science trivia, but what exactly does it all mean?

First, it’s important to realize that the sun’s surface is actually its coolest layer. Dive down to its core, and you’d encounter plasma temperatures of about 15 million kelvins (about 27 million degrees Fahrenheit).

Things also heat up just above the sun’s surface, as its atmosphere exceeds temperatures of 500,000 kelvins (about 900,000 degrees Fahrenheit).

“Power is the rate at which energy is used or transferred,” explains University of Washington physics professor Robert H. Holzworth. “So power is energy per second, and the energy per second in lighting can be very high, but it only lasts a really, really, short time, like tens of microseconds.

So the total energy isn’t like the total energy from the sun, obviously, but the rate the energy dissipates can be very large. It’s one of the most powerful natural phenomena on Earth.”

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