Separation scaling for viscous vortex reconnection

Jie Yao, Fazle Hussain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Reconnection plays a significant role in the dynamics of plasmas, polymers and macromolecules, as well as in numerous laminar and turbulent flow phenomena in both classical and quantum fluids. Extensive studies in quantum vortex reconnection show that the minimum separation distance between interacting vortices follows a scaling. Due to the complex nature of the dynamics (e.g. the formation of bridges and threads as well as successive reconnections and avalanche), such scaling has never been reported for (classical) viscous vortex reconnection. Using direct numerical simulation of the Navier-Stokes equations, we study viscous reconnection of slender vortices, whose core size is much smaller than the radius of the vortex curvature. For separations that are large compared to the vortex core size, we discover that between the two interacting viscous vortices surprisingly also follows the 1/2-power scaling for both pre- and post-reconnection events. The prefactors in this 1/2-power law are found to depend not only on the initial configuration but also on the vortex Reynolds number (or viscosity). Our finding in viscous reconnection, complementing numerous works on quantum vortex reconnection, suggests that there is indeed a universal route for reconnection - an essential result for understanding the various facets of the vortex reconnection phenomena and their potential modelling, as well as possibly explaining turbulence cascade physics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberR4
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - 2020


  • Navier-Stokes equations
  • vortex dynamics
  • vortex interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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