Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso

Convection, Stellar

  • Steven W. Stahler
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_347-4


Convection is the transport of heat by turbulent motion of gas. Within stars, this thermal energy is supplied either by nuclear fusion or bulk gravitational contraction. The luminosity of the Sun is carried outward by convection in the outer third of its radius. The shifting pattern of granulation visible on the solar surface represents rising and falling gas cells in the convection zone. The upwelling of gas in this zone, together with the Sun’s rotation, amplifies and maintains the solar magnetic field. When the Sun was a pre-main-sequence star, its relatively high surface cooling drove convection throughout its interior.


Stars generate energy by nuclear fusion or gravitational contraction. This energy is transported through the interior, eventually streaming outward as radiation from the surface. The transport occurs either through the diffusion of radiation or convection. In the Sun, whose luminosity stems entirely from fusion, convection operates in the outer...


Solar Wind Convection Zone Surface Cool Stellar Wind Solar Magnetic Field 
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References and Further Reading

  1. Foukal PV (2004) Solar astrophysics. Wiley-VCH, WeinheimGoogle Scholar
  2. Shore SN (2003) The tapestry of modern astrophysics. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AstronomyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA