Astrophysics (Index)About

thermal runaway

(situation where heat triggers more heat production)

Thermal runaway is the result of positive feedback from some process producing heat, i.e., raising the temperature of some heat-producing process makes it produce more heat. The term is used for astronomical bodies such as planets and stars, e.g., one global-warming scenario: a situation where a higher temperature causes more greenhouse gas to be produced.

In stars, the amount of fusion is often temperature-dependent and produces heat, and under some circumstances, the ignition of fusion causes more fusion to take place. If stars with degeneracy in the core become hot enough to trigger fusion, the generated heat might raise the temperature without decreasing density through pressure, resulting in such a thermal runaway, such as a helium flash.

(physics,stars,stellar evolution)
Further reading:

Referenced by pages:
helium runaway
runaway process
Type Ia supernova