, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 431-440
Date: 27 Sep 2009

Evolution of isolated streamwise vortices in the late stages of boundary layer transition

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Abstract

Experiments were conducted with two, smooth hills, lying well within the boundary layer over a flat plate mounted in a wind tunnel. One hill was shallow, with peak height 1.5 mm and width 50 mm; the other, steep, 3 mm high and 30 mm wide. Since the hills occupied one-half of the tunnel span, streamwise vorticity formed near the hills’ edge. At a freestream speed of 3.5 m/s, streaks formed with inflectional wall-normal and spanwise velocity profiles but without effecting transition. Transition, observed at 7.5 m/s, took different routes with the two hills. With the steep hill, streamwise velocity signals exhibited the passage of a wave packet which intensified before breakdown to turbulence. With the shallow hill there was a broad range of frequencies present immediately downstream of the hill. These fluctuations grew continuously and transition occurred within a shorter distance. Since the size of the streamwise vorticity generated at the hill edge is of the order of the hill height, the shallow hill generates vorticity closer to the wall and supports an earlier transition, whereas the steep hill creates a thicker vortex and associated streaks which exhibit oscillations due to their own instability as an additional precursor stage before transition.