Fr.: diffusion ambipolaire
A physical process which allows a → molecular cloud to decouple from → interstellar magnetic field in order to undergo → gravitational collapse. A cloud of pure molecular gas would form stars very fast through collapse since neutral matter does not respond to the magnetic field. However, the magnetic field holds up a collapse because the ions present in the cloud collide with the neutrals and tie them to the field. The collapse can then only proceed if the magnetic field can be separated from the gas. In denser molecular cores the ionization degree decreases substantially and therefore neutrals and ions decouple.
Fr.: diffusion atomique
1) Movement of a gas or liquid as a result of the random thermal motion
of its atoms or molecules.
L. diffusionem, from stem of diffundere "scatter, pour out," from dif- "apart, in every direction," → dis-, + fundere "to melt, cast, pour out," from PIE *gheud-, from root *gheu- "to pour."
Paxš, verbal noun and stem of paxšidan→ diffuse.
Fr.: coefficient de diffusion
A factor of proportionality involved in the → diffusion equation. It may be defined as the amount of the quantity diffusing across a unit area through a unit concentration gradient in unit time. → magnetic diffusivity.
Fr.: équation de diffusion
An equation that expresses the time rate of change of a quantity in terms of the product of the diffusion coefficient and the → Laplacian operating on the quantity. For example the diffusion equation for temperature is: ∂T/∂t = D∇2T.
Fr.: région de diffusion
A narrow boundary layer above the solar → photosphere, between two magnetic field lines, where the plasma becomes demagnetized or unfrozen. The presence of a localized magnetic region is necessary for → magnetic reconnection.
Fr.: diffusion turbulente
A macroscopic process that occurs in a → fluid because of the relative motions induced by the non-uniform → turbulent motions of the fluid. Also known as turbulent → diffusion. Eddy diffusion may occur in an atmosphere if it is unstable against turbulence. It dominates the atmosphere below the homopause. See also → molecular diffusion.
Fr.: diffusion des éléments
An important physical process occurring in stars, which is the relative separation of the various → chemical elements. It is caused by → gravitational settling and → thermal diffusion, on the one hand, and → radiative levitation on the other. This process, which was described by Michaud (1970) to account for the abundance anomalies observed in → chemically peculiar → A star, is now recognized as occuring in all types of stars. Its influence on the observed → chemical abundances is extremely variable, however, due to competing macroscopic motions like → convective → mixing or rotation-induced → turbulence. In the Sun, no observable abundance anomalies are expected from element diffusion, as the time scale of the process is longer than the solar lifetime. However the small induced → depletion of → helium and → heavy elements by about 20% is detectable through → helioseismology. Such detections are more difficult in stars, as only global → oscillation modes can be detected, in contrast to the Sun, where local oscillations of the surface can be analyzed (Théado et al., 2005, A&A 437, 553).
Fr.: diffusion gazeuse
An → isotope separation process using the different diffusion speeds of → atoms or → molecules for separation. This process is used to divide → uranium hexafluoride (UF6) into two separate streams of U-235 and U-238. Before processing by gaseous diffusion, uranium is first converted from → uranium oxide (U3O8) to UF6. The UF6 is heated and converted from a solid to a gas. The gas is then forced through a series of compressors and converters that contain porous barriers. Because uranium-235 has a slightly lighter isotopic mass than uranium-238, UF6 molecules made with uranium-235 diffuse through the barriers at a slightly higher rate than the molecules containing uranium-238. At the end of the process, there are two UF6 streams, with one stream having a higher concentration of uranium-235 than the other (EVS, a Division of Argonne National Laboratory).
Fr.: diffusion magnétique
The process whereby the magnetic field tends to diffuse across the plasma and to smooth out any local inhomogeneities under the influence of a finite resistance in the plasma. For a stationary plasma the → induction equation becomes a pure → diffusion equation: ∂B/∂t = Dm∇2B, where Dm = (μ0σ0)-1 is the → magnetic diffusivity.
Fr.: diffusion moléculaire
Fr.: diffusion radiative
A process of → radiative transfer in which photons are repeatedly absorbed and re-emitted by matter particles.
Fr.: diffusion thermique
A physical process resulting from → temperature gradients in stellar interiors, whereby more highly charged and more massive chemical species are concentrated toward the hottest region of the star, its center. Therefore, thermal diffusion and → gravitational settling tend to make heavier species sink relative to the light ones.