The effects of expansion on the turbulence structure of compressible boundary layers

Stephen A. Arnette, Mo Samimy, Gregory S. Elliott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A fully developed Mach 3 turbulent boundary layer subjected to four expansion regions (centred and gradual expansions of 7° and 14°) was investigated with laser Doppler velocimetry. Measurements were acquired in the incoming flat-plate boundary layer and to s/δ ≃ 20 downstream of the expansions. While mean velocity profiles exhibit significant progress towards recovery by the most downstream measurements, the turbulence structure remains far from equilibrium. Comparisons of computed (method of characteristics) and measured velocity profiles indicate that the post-expansion flow evolution is largely inviscid for approximately 10δ. Turbulence levels decrease across the expansion, and the reductions increase in severity as the wall is approached. Downstream of the 14° expansions, the reductions are more severe and reverse transition is indicated by sharp reductions in turbulent kinetic energy levels and a change in sign of the Reynolds shear stress. Dimensionless parameters such as anisotropy and shear stress correlation coefficient highlight the complex evolution of the post-expansion boundary layer. An examination of the compressible vorticity transport equation and estimates of the perturbation impulses attributable to streamline curvature, acceleration, and dilatation both confirm dilatation to be the primary stabilizer. However, the dilatation impulse increases only slightly for the 14° expansions, so the dramatic differences downstream of the 7° and 14° expansions indicate nonlinear boundary layer response. Differences attributable to the varied radii of surface curvature are fleeting for the 7° expansions, but persist through the spatial extent of the measurements for the 14° expansions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-105
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Jul 25 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering

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