The wake of a short aspect ratio cylinder placed in a uniform flow is experimentally investigated. After having characterized the temporal behavior of the Bénard–Von Kàrmàn vortex shedding by the use of a classical hot-wire anemometer, an ultrasound anemometry technique is applied to study the spatial critical behavior of the envelope of the transverse velocity of the wake. It is shown that this envelope which represents the spatial form of the global mode of the wake, follows universal scaling laws which are in agreement with a second order phase transition. In a second set of experiments, the behavior of the longitudinal velocity fluctuations is also investigated. It is discovered that there is a special point several diameters behind the cylinder, which plays a role of a wave maker. Finally, for very small aspect ratio cylinders, symmetric vortex shedding is reported and interpreted using a system of coupled oscillators.
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