Waves and Convection in Stellar Astrophysics

Daniel Lecoanet*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter begins with the principles determining a star’s structure: hydrostatic and thermal balance, and energy generation and transport. These imply that some stars have stably stratified cores and convective envelopes, whereas other stars have convective cores and stably stratified envelopes. The convection in stars is predominantly low Mach number, but the density at the top of a convection zone can be orders of magnitude smaller than the density at the bottom. We derive the anelastic equations which can model efficient, low Mach number convection. The properties of stars can be inferred by studying the waves at their surface. Here we describe sound and internal gravity waves, both of which have been observed in the Sun or other stars. The second half of this chapter discusses two phenomena at the interface between the convective and stably stratified layers of stars. First we consider convective overshoot, the convective motions which can extend into an adjacent stably stratified fluid. This can lead to substantial mixing in the stably stratified part of stars. Then, we discuss internal gravity wave generation by convection, which can lead to wave-induced energy or momentum transport. These illustrate some important fluid dynamical problems in stellar astrophysics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCISM International Centre for Mechanical Sciences, Courses and Lectures
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages40
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameCISM International Centre for Mechanical Sciences, Courses and Lectures
ISSN (Print)0254-1971
ISSN (Electronic)2309-3706

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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