Compressibility effects on the structural evolution of transitional high-speed planar wakes

Jean Pierre Hickey, Fazle Hussain, Xiaohua Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The compressibility effects on the structural evolution of the transitional high-speed planar wake are studied. The relative Mach number of the laminar base flow modifies two fundamental features of planar wake transition: (i) the characteristic length scale defined by the most unstable linear mode; and (ii) the domain of influence of the structures within the staggered two-dimensional vortex array. Linear stability results reveal a reduced growth (approximately 30 % reduction up to ) and a quasilinear increase of the wavelength of the most unstable, two-dimensional instability mode (approximately 20 % longer over the same range) with increasing . The primary wavelength defines the length scale imposed on the emerging transitional structures; naturally, a longer wavelength results in rollers with a greater streamwise separation and hence also larger circulation. A reduction of the growth rate and an increase of the principal wavelength results in a greater ellipticity of the emerging rollers. Compressibility effects also modify the domain of influence of the transitional structures through an increased cross-wake and inhibited streamwise communication as characteristic paths between rollers are deflected due to local gradients. The reduced streamwise domain of influence impedes roller pairing and, for a sufficiently large relative , pairing is completely suppressed. Thus, we observe an increased two-dimensionality with increasing Mach number: directly contrasting the increasing three-dimensional effects in high-speed mixing layers. Temporally evolving direct numerical simulations conducted at and 2.0, for Reynolds numbers up to 3000, support the physical insight gained from linear stability and vortex dynamics studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-39
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Jun 10 2016


  • compressible turbulence
  • transition to turbulence
  • wakes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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