The effects of expansion strength on large-scale structures in compressible free shear layers

K. M. Smith, J. C. Dutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Planar visualizations of two compressible free shear layers were performed immediately downstream of centered expansions of differing strengths in order to assess the influence of expansion strength on the embedded large-scale structures. The free shear layers studied here were formed through the separation of an approach flow, either a Mach 2.0 stream or a Mach 2.5 stream, from a planar backstep. In addition to side-view and end-view visualizations, spatial correlations (computed from large image ensembles) and laser Doppler velocimetry surveys of the free shear layers were also examined to discern relationships between the structure dynamics and the underlying pre- and postexpansion velocity fields. The instantaneous images clearly illustrate that ellipsoidal, highly coherent structures were present in both shear layers downstream of the expansion corner. The dissimilar expansion strengths did not appear to produce qualitatively different structures in the shear layers: however, as compared to the weaker expansion, the stronger expansion did result in an increase in the growth rate of the large-scale structures, apparently from an augmentation of the 〈u1 υ1〉∂U/∂y production term in the TKE equation. Furthermore, quantitative measurements of the mean structure geometry, as determined from the spatial correlation fields, revealed that a stronger expansion strength resulted in a larger aspect ratio of the mean structures (i.e., the structures were stretched preferentially in the streamwise and transverse directions as compared to the spanwise direction during the expansion process). Quadrant decompositions of the instantaneous velocity fluctuations within the approach boundary layers and within the free shear layers indicated a definite increase in structure organization across the expansion region, which is in contrast with studies of expanded supersonic boundary layers without separation. The instantaneous image data, spatial correlations. and velocity decompositions uniformly suggest that the separation process itself, and not the expansion strength, is the primary influence on initial eddy structure in the postexpansion free shear layer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2076-2086
Number of pages11
JournalPhysics of fluids
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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