Does lightening occur in the sun, or at least something similar? This was the only question I intended, but but I found a couple more to add. A star is full of plasma, so shouldn’t some of the light be produced by gas excitation like a neon tube? Does some of the light come from fluorescing elements? The main process through which the sun produces energy is by fusion, but do we see any light not produced by the combining elements, or is it only because of the plasma around the reaction?
I saw something on this very recently. Yes, the sun generates some massive lightning bolts or something like it. It looks impressive and I know I saw a picture of it somewhere…
You’re killing me.
Shagnasty is referring to this epic thread. Prepare to be enlightened, or something. There are lots of cool pics, which prove something, but I’m not sure what. I don’t think the thread provides a factual answer to your question, and I don’t have one. The link is for entertainment purposes only.
In no particular order:
This part is easy. The actual fusion takes place only in the very core of the Sun, far deeper than we can see directly. All of the energy ultimately comes from the fusion, but it takes about a million years for that energy to reach the surface. So, directly, all of the light you see is from the hot plasma.
This does occur, but the reverse occurs to a greater degree. If you have a thin plasma, then the spectral lines are very significant, but if the plasma is thick enough, you can absorb any color of light, and emit any color of light, without too much difficulty. The layer of the Sun where most of the photons we see originate, called the photosphere, is very dense, so it produces a blackbody spectrum, a smooth curve encompassing all of the colors. The layer above that, however, the chromosphere, is not so dense, so spectral lines are significant, and it’s cooler, so it actually absorbs light in its spectral lines, rather than emitting it (to be precise, it does both, but the absorbtion is more significant). So the spectrum we see for the Sun is mostly a smooth blackbody curve, with dark lines in it where light is being absorbed in the chromosphere.
Interestingly, the layer above the chromosphere, the corona, is even less dense, so spectral lines are important, but it’s oddly much, much hotter than the photosphere or chromosphere. So the corona produces an emission-line spectrum. But because the corona is so very hot (millions of degrees, compared to thousands of degrees for the photosphere and chromosphere), those emission lines are all in the X-ray part of the spectrum, so they’re not as noticeable (unless you’re Superman).
There are all sorts of interesting electrical current flows in the Sun, which lead to all sorts of interesting magnetic effects, but I couldn’t begin to do justice to them in a single post. Some of the professors here would gladly talk to you for hours or days about all the fascinating electromagnetic phenomena they study.
Minor nitpick… the electrostatic discharge you see in the sky is spelled lightning, not lightening.
Chronos your answer is great, thanks for the information. I couldn’t manage to post yesterday, or load the page by the afternoon. The pictures were neat, but the thread didn’t answer my quaestion. Thanks dopers.