The term stellar wind is used nowadays to describe any more or less continuous mass loss from a star. With the observations made with satellites in recent years it is becoming clear that most stars are undergoing this form of mass loss, though its magnitude can be very different from one star to another. The term stellar wind does not include the more eruptive forms of mass loss such as novae, the ejection of mass in shells or mass loss as a result of flares.
Stellar winds are maintained by energy and momentum deposited in the outer layers of a stellar atmosphere. The deposition of energy causes the heating of a chromosphere and corona, so that the theory of stellar winds cannot really be separated from the theory of coronal heating. Energy and momentum can both be deposited by the same mechanism. For example if a corona is heated by the dissipation of a wave which deposits energy, the same wave can change the momentum of the mean flow through wave pressure and this can happen even in the extreme case of no dissipation of the wave.
The foundation of the theory of stellar winds was laid by Parker (1958) in his theory of the solar wind. A useful review of this work has been given by Parker (1965). The theory of the solar wind in its simplest form is deduced from the equation of motion combined with the equations of continuity and state.