Fr.: circulation méridien
The mass motion of material within a → rotating star generated by the star's departure from spherical symmetry. For a rotating star in which → centrifugal forces are not negligible, → radiative equilibrium and → hydrostatic equilibrium cannot be satisfied. In this condition energy transfer is accomplished by means of the physical motion of material. According to → von Zeipel theorem, the heating on an → equipotential surface is generally higher in the polar direction than in the equatorial direction, which drives a large scale circulation current rising at the pole and descending at the equator. As a consequence, → mixing of material takes place in the stellar interior; see also → Eddington-Sweet time scale. The meridional circulation plays an important role in the evolution of → massive stars. The circulation current was first suggested by Arthur S. Eddington in 1926 (The Internal Constitution of the Stars, Dover Pub. Inc., New York) and subsequently quantified by P. A. Sweet (1950, MNRAS 110, 548).