Coalescence (physics)

Coalescence is the process by which two or more droplets, bubbles or particles merge during contact to form a single daughter droplet, bubble or particle. It can take place in many processes, ranging from meteorology to astrophysics. For example, it is both involved in the formation of raindrops as well as planetary and star formation.

In meteorology, its role is crucial in the formation of rain. As droplets are carried by the updrafts and downdrafts in a cloud, they collide and coalesce to form larger droplets. When the droplets become too large to be sustained on the air currents, they begin to fall as rain. Adding to this process, the cloud may be seeded with ice from higher altitudes either by the cloud tops reaching −40 degrees Celsius or the cloud being seeded by ice from cirrus clouds.

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