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A flow-visualization study of transition in plane Poiseuille flow

  • Dale R. Carlson (a1), Sheila E. Widnall (a1) and Martin F. Peeters (a1)


Flow visualization of artificially triggered transition in plane Poiseuille flow in a water channel by means of 10–20 μm diameter tihnium-dioxide-coated mica particles revealed some striking features of turbulent spots. Strong oblique waves were observed both at the front of the arrowhead-shaped spot as well as trailing from the rear tips. Both natural and artificially triggered transition were observed to occur for Reynolds numbers slightly greater than 1000, above which the flow became fully turbulent. The front of the spot moves with a convection speed of about two-thirds of the centreline velocity, while the rear portion moves at about $\frac{1}{3}U_{\rm cl}$. The spot expands into the flow with a spreading half-angle of about 8°. After growing to a size of some 36 times h (the channel depth) at a downstream distance x/h of about 130, the spot began to split into two spots, accompanied by strong wave activity. The spot(s) was followed visually downstream of its origin a distance x/h of about 300. These results indicate that wave propagation and breakdown play a crucial role in transition to turbulence in Poiseuille flow.



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