Effect of coherent structures on aero-optic distortion in a turbulent boundary layer

Theresa Saxton-Fox, Beverley J. McKeon, Stanislav Gordeyev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The deflection of a small-aperture laser beam was studied as it passed through an incompressible turbulent boundary layer that was heated at the wall. The heating at the wall was sufficiently mild that the temperature and density fields acted as passive scalars with a Prandtl number of 0.71. Simultaneous particle image velocimetry and Malley probe laser deflection measurements were performed in overlapping regions of the boundary layer to identify correlations between coherent velocity structures, passive scalar transport, and optical beam deflection. Streamwise gradients in the streamwise and wall-normal velocity fields were observed to be correlated to the deflection of the optical beam and to streamwise density gradients. The passage of a large-scale motion through the beam path was shown to affect the statistics of the optical beam deflection as well as the local distribution of small-scale velocity features. The wall-normal small-scale velocity features were consistently correlated to the beam deflection, throughout different phases of the large-scale motion convection. The observations motivated a hypothesis that views the large scales as heat carriers, whereas the small scales modify the local sense of a velocity and density gradient toward a streamwise gradient that directly affects the optical beam deflection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2828-2839
Number of pages12
JournalAIAA journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering

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