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The Sun’s supergranulation
Living Reviews in Solar Physics  (IF17.417),  Pub Date : 2018-09-10, DOI: 10.1007/s41116-018-0013-5
François Rincon, Michel Rieutord

Supergranulation is a fluid-dynamical phenomenon taking place in the solar photosphere, primarily detected in the form of a vigorous cellular flow pattern with a typical horizontal scale of approximately 30–35 Mm, a dynamical evolution time of 24–48 h, a strong 300–400 m/s (rms) horizontal flow component and a much weaker 20–30 m/s vertical component. Supergranulation was discovered more than 60 years ago, however, explaining its physical origin and most important observational characteristics has proven extremely challenging ever since, as a result of the intrinsic multiscale, nonlinear dynamical complexity of the problem concurring with strong observational and computational limitations. Key progress on this problem is now taking place with the advent of twenty-first-century supercomputing resources and the availability of global observations of the dynamics of the solar surface with high spatial and temporal resolutions. This article provides an exhaustive review of observational, numerical and theoretical research on supergranulation, and discusses the current status of our understanding of its origin and dynamics, most importantly in terms of large-scale nonlinear thermal convection, in the light of a selection of recent findings.