From what I read meteors compress the air in front of them, increasing the air's temperature massively; this in turn is what heats the meteor. My question, which I can't seem to find a clear answer to is: does the resulting extremely hot air primarily heat the meteor through radiation or convection, or some combination of the two?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ At that level of proximity, why did you not consider conduction? $\endgroup$ Jun 6, 2023 at 9:09
  • $\begingroup$ @naturallyInconsistent: Air is such a good thermal insulator that the heating would in any case take place in the layer right next to the meteor, and the only difference between convection and conduction in that respect is that the air molecules are continuously being replaced in the former case, which is what is happening in the case of a meteor. See: physics.stackexchange.com/questions/497923/… $\endgroup$
    – Outis Nemo
    Jun 6, 2023 at 9:14
  • $\begingroup$ The main mechanism for the heating is not compression. It is viscous heating from frictional drag tangent to the meteor surface in a turbulent boundary layer. $\endgroup$ Jun 6, 2023 at 11:52
  • $\begingroup$ @ChetMiller: That's not true from what I've read. I first believed something similar, but the scientific sources I found stated that what was rather occurring was ram heating through compression of the air in front of the meteor, heating the air to high temperatures, which then subsequently heated the meteor. So my question is what the primary mechanism is for this heating, i.e. whether it's radiation or convection, or a combination of both. $\endgroup$
    – Outis Nemo
    Jun 6, 2023 at 12:48


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.