Atmospheres & Climate

Lightning On Other Planets

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
October 30, 2019
Filed under
Lightning On Other Planets

More than 4,000 planets are known that orbit stars other than our Sun. Many harbor a dynamic atmosphere that is cold enough that cloud particles can form in abundance. The diversity of exoplanets leads to differences in cloud coverage depending on global system parameters.

Some planets will be fully covered in clouds, some have clouds on the nightside but are largely cloud-free on the dayside. These cloud particles can easily be charged and lightning discharges will occur in cloudy, dynamic exoplanet atmosphere. Lightning supports a Global Electric Circuit (GCE) on Earth and we argue that exoplanet may develop a GCE in particular if parts of the exoplanet atmospheres can remain cloud free.

Christiane Helling
(Submitted on 28 Oct 2019)
Comments: 7 pages, reviewed proceeding of an invited keynote talk for ‘Electrostatics 2019’, accepted for publication in the Journal of Physics Conference Series
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR); Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics (; Plasma Physics (physics.plasm-ph)
Journal reference: Journal of Physics: Conference Series 2019, Volume 1322, Number 1
Cite as: arXiv:1910.12722 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1910.12722v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Christiane Helling
[v1] Mon, 28 Oct 2019 14:40:53 UTC (1,348 KB)


Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻