Global linear instability of rotating-cone boundary layers in a quiescent medium

Christian Thomas, Christopher Davies

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9 Citations (Scopus)


The global linear stability of the family of infinite rotating-cone boundary layers in an otherwise still fluid is investigated using a velocity-vorticity form of the linearized Navier-Stokes equations. The formulation is separable with respect to the azimuthal direction. Thus, disturbance development is simulated for a single azimuthal mode number. Numerical simulations are conducted for an extensive range of cone half-angles (ψ [20:80]) and stability parameters (Reynolds number, azimuthal mode number), where conditions are taken to be near those specifications necessary for the onset of absolute instability. A localized impulsive wall forcing is implemented that excites disturbances that form wave packets. This allows the disturbance evolution to be traced in the spatial-temporal plane. When a homogeneous flow approximation is utilised that neglects the spatial variation of the basic state, linear perturbations display characteristics consistent with local stability theory. For disturbances to the genuine spatially dependent  inhomogeneous flow, global linear instability characterized by a faster than exponential temporal growth arises for azimuthal mode numbers greater than the conditions for critical absolute instability. Furthermore, a reasonable prediction for the azimuthal mode number needed to bring about a change in global behavior is achieved by coupling solutions of the Ginzburg-Landau equation with local stability properties. Thus, the local-global stability behavior is qualitatively similar to that found in the infinite rotating-disk boundary layer and many other globally unstable flows.

Original languageEnglish
Article number043902
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalPhysical Review Fluids
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


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