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Absolute and convective instabilities of an inviscid compressible mixing layer: Theory and applications

Caillol, P. (2009) Absolute and convective instabilities of an inviscid compressible mixing layer: Theory and applications. Physics of Fluids, 21 (10). Art. no.104101. ISSN 1070-6631

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This study aims to examine the effect of compressibility on unbounded and parallel shear flow linear instabilities. This analysis is of interest for industrial, geophysical, and astrophysical flows. We focus on the stability of a wavepacket as opposed to previous single-mode stability studies. We consider the notions of absolute and convective instabilities first used to describe plasma instabilities. The compressible-flow modal theory predicts instability whatever the Mach number. Spatial and temporal growth rates and Reynolds stresses nevertheless become strongly reduced at high Mach numbers. The evolution of disturbances is driven by Kelvin -Helmholtz instability that weakens in supersonic flows. We wish to examine the occurrence of absolute instability, necessary for the appearance of turbulent motions in an inviscid and compressible two-dimensional mixing layer at an arbitrary Mach number subject to a three-dimensional disturbance. The mixing layer is defined by a parametric family of mean-velocity and temperature profiles. The eigenvalue problem is solved with the help of a spectral method. We ascertain the effects of the distribution of temperature and velocity in the mixing layer on the transition between convective and absolute instabilities. It appears that, in most cases, absolute instability is always possible at high Mach numbers provided that the ratio of slow-stream temperature over fast-stream temperature may be less than a critical maximal value but the temporal growth rate present in the absolutely unstable zone remains small and tends to zero at high Mach numbers. The transition toward a supersonic turbulent regime is therefore unlikely to be possible in the linear theory. Absolute instability can be also present among low-Mach-number coflowing mixing layers provided that this same temperature ratio may be small, but nevertheless, higher than a critical minimal value. Temperature distribution within the mixing layer also has an effect on the growth rate, this diminishes when the slow stream is heated. These results are applied to the dynamics of mixing layers in the interstellar medium and to the dynamics of the heliopause, frontier between the interstellar medium, and the solar wind. (C) 2009 American Institute of Physics.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2009 American Institute of Physics. This is an author produced version of a paper subsequently published in Physics of Fluids. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Keywords: Kelvin-Helmholtz Instability; Open Shear Layers; Solar-Wind; Spatial Stability; Equilibrium; Transition; Fluid; Waves; Flow; Magnetosphere
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > School of Mathematics and Statistics (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Miss Anthea Tucker
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2009 10:20
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2015 11:48
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.3225142
Status: Published
Publisher: American Institute of Physics
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1063/1.3225142
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/10137

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