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Absolute/convective secondary instabilities and the role of confinement in free shear layers
Stockholm University, Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics (Nordita). Laboratory of Fluid Mechanics and Instabilities, EPFL, Switzerland.
Number of Authors: 32018 (English)In: Physical review fluids, ISSN 2469-990X, Vol. 3, no 5, article id 053901Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We study the linear spatiotemporal stability of an infinite row of equal point vortices under symmetric confinement between parallel walls. These rows of vortices serve to model the secondary instability leading to the merging of consecutive (Kelvin-Helmholtz) vortices in free shear layers, allowing us to study how confinement limits the growth of shear layers through vortex pairings. Using a geometric construction akin to a Legendre transform on the dispersion relation, we compute the growth rate of the instability in different reference frames as a function of the frame velocity with respect to the vortices. This approach is verified and complemented with numerical computations of the linear impulse response, fully characterizing the absolute/convective nature of the instability. Similar to results by Healey on the primary instability of parallel tanh profiles [J. Fluid Mech. 623, 241 (2009)], we observe a range of confinement in which absolute instability is promoted. For a parallel shear layer with prescribed confinement and mixing length, the threshold for absolute/convective instability of the secondary pairing instability depends on the separation distance between consecutive vortices, which is physically determined by the wavelength selected by the previous (primary or pairing) instability. In the presence of counterflow and moderate to weak confinement, small (large) wavelength of the vortex row leads to absolute (convective) instability. While absolute secondary instabilities in spatially developing flows have been previously related to an abrupt transition to a complex behavior, this secondary pairing instability regenerates the flow with an increased wavelength, eventually leading to a convectively unstable row of vortices. We argue that since the primary instability remains active for large wavelengths, a spatially developing shear layer can directly saturate on the wavelength of such a convectively unstable row, by-passing the smaller wavelengths of absolute secondary instability. This provides a wavelength selection mechanism, according to which the distance between consecutive vortices should be sufficiently large in comparison with the channel width in order for the row of vortices to persist. We argue that the proposed wavelength selection criteria can serve as a guideline for experimentally obtaining plane shear layers with counterflow, which has remained an experimental challenge.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 3, no 5, article id 053901
National Category
Physical Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-157786DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevFluids.3.053901ISI: 000433003000001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-157786DiVA, id: diva2:1235573
Available from: 2018-07-26 Created: 2018-07-26 Last updated: 2018-07-26Bibliographically approved

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