can a thunder appear in space?

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Brian Monetti, I <3 astronomy

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Thunder would not happen in space, but lightning could. Lightning is an electric discharge, and discharges like this can happen when clouds of dust moving past each other pick up charge, and then when the charges become large enough, discharge. This likely happens in dense nebulas, and is known to happen on other planets. In fact, spacecraft have seen lightning on Jupiter and Saturn!

While lightning could happen, thunder would likely not. Thunder is sound, which requires a medium to travel through. On earth, this would be air. In space, the overall density is so low that the sound would not propagate. In fact, the movie Alien even had the tag line "In space, no one can hear you scream." Thunder would happen on planets with an atmosphere though! But not in open space.

Charles Wang, I took an astrophysics class in college. If memory serves, had mediocre marks.

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Thunder doesn't "appear," as it's simply the auditory report of lightning. Lightning is basically static electricity writ large. It requires a medium that can be ionized (i.e. air). In the vacuum of space, there is no lightning, and also no sound. You can directly transmit electromagnetic energy through space in the form of radio waves or lasers, but that's not the same thing and it wouldn't be visible (or audible) anyway.

Charles Wang, I took an astrophysics class in college. If memory serves, had mediocre marks.

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Edit: I have it on good authority that vacuum is not a perfect insulator. So yes, lightning is possible in outer space, but the charge differentials would have to be absolutely enormous; we're talking voltages billions or trillions of times higher than from a lightning strike on Earth.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21028174.900-universes-highest-electric-current-found.html#.Unqsbfmkpa8

You still wouldn't hear it coming. Not that you'd care for long if you got very close, I'd wager.

I wish there were an edit function.

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While lightning could happen, thunder would likely not. Thunder is sound, which requires a medium to travel through. On earth, this would be air. In space, the overall density is so low that the sound would not propagate. In fact, the movie Alien even had the tag line "In space, no one can hear you scream." Thunder would happen on planets with an atmosphere though! But not in open space.

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