Corona discharge is an electrical discharge brought on by the ionization of a fluid such as air surrounding a conductor that is electrically charged. Spontaneous corona discharges occur naturally in high-voltage systems unless care is taken to limit the electric field strength. A corona will occur when the strength (potential gradient) of the electric field around a conductor is high enough to form a conductive region, but not high enough to cause electrical breakdown or arcing to nearby objects. It is often seen as a bluish (or other color) glow in the air adjacent to pointed metal conductors carrying high voltages, and emits light by the same property as a gas discharge lamp.
In many high voltage applications corona is an unwanted side effect. Corona discharge from high voltage electric power transmission lines constitutes an economically significant waste of power for utilities. In high voltage equipment like televisions, radio transmitters, X-ray machines and particle accelerators the current leakage caused by coronas can constitute an unwanted load on the circuit.
Corona discharges can often be suppressed by improved insulation, corona rings, and making high voltage electrodes in smooth rounded shapes. However, controlled corona discharges are used in a variety of processes such as air filtration, photocopiers and ozone generators.