Direct numerical simulations (DNS) are used to examine the pressure fluctuations generated by a spatially developed Mach 5.86 turbulent boundary layer. The unsteady pressure field is analysed at multiple wall-normal locations, including those at the wall, within the boundary layer (including inner layer, the log layer, and the outer layer), and in the free stream. The statistical and structural variations of pressure fluctuations as a function of wall-normal distance are highlighted. Computational predictions for mean-velocity profiles and surface pressure spectrum are in good agreement with experimental measurements, providing a first ever comparison of this type at hypersonic Mach numbers. The simulation shows that the dominant frequency of boundary-layer-induced pressure fluctuations shifts to lower frequencies as the location of interest moves away from the wall. The pressure wave propagates with a speed nearly equal to the local mean velocity within the boundary layer (except in the immediate vicinity of the wall) while the propagation speed deviates from Taylor’s hypothesis in the free stream. Compared with the surface pressure fluctuations, which are primarily vortical, the acoustic pressure fluctuations in the free stream exhibit a significantly lower dominant frequency, a greater spatial extent, and a smaller bulk propagation speed. The free-stream pressure structures are found to have similar Lagrangian time and spatial scales as the acoustic sources near the wall. As the Mach number increases, the free-stream acoustic fluctuations exhibit increased radiation intensity, enhanced energy content at high frequencies, shallower orientation of wave fronts with respect to the flow direction, and larger propagation velocity.
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