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When an alternating potential difference is applied across two conductors whose spacing is large as compared to their diameter, there is no apparent change in the condition of the atmospheric air surrounding the wires if voltage is low. However, when the potential difference is increased, then a point is reached when a faint luminous glow of bluish colour appears along the lengths of conductors and at the same time a hissing sound is heard. This bluish discharge is known as corona. Corona is always accompanied by the production of ozone which is readily detected because of its characteristic odour.

Corona occurs when the electrostatic stress in the air around the conductors exceeds 30 kVA (maximum)/cm or 21.1 kV (r.m.s.)/cm.