Germany-based photographer Martin Rietze gets himself into life-threatening situations to make some amazing shots of volcano eruptions with lighting. Surrounded by poisonous gas and bubbling lava, he photographed the Sakurajima volcano in Japan, and NASA chose his shot as the Astronomy Picture of the Day for March 11, 2013. The winning shot was taken in January.

Even though lightnings occur every 40 seconds somewhere around the world, even NASA is not entirely sure what causes lightning when the volcano erupts:

“One hypothesis holds that catapulting magma bubbles or volcanic ash are themselves electrically charged, and by their motion create these separated areas. Other volcanic lightning episodes may be facilitated by charge-inducing collisions in volcanic dust.”

Even if you’re not much into physics, you’ll enjoy these amazing volcano lightning shots!

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Frighteningly Beautiful Shots of Volcanic Lightning by Martin Rietze originally appeared on Bored Panda on March 13, 2013.