The behaviour of a turbulent boundary layer on a flat surface as it encounters the nose of a cylindrical wing mounted normal to that surface is being investigated. A three-component laser anemometer has been developed to measure this highly turbulent three-dimensional flow. Measurements of all the non-zero mean-velocity and Reynolds-stress components have been made with this instrument in the plane of symmetry upstream of the wing. These data have been used to estimate some of the component terms of the turbulence kinetic energy equation. Histograms of velocity fluctuations and short-time cross-correlations between the laser anemometer and a hot-wire probe have also been measured in the plane of symmetry. In all, these results reveal much of the time-dependent and time-averaged turbulence structure of the flow here.
Separation occurs in the plane of symmetry because of the adverse pressure gradient imposed by the wing. In the time mean the resulting separated flow consists of two fairly distinct regions: a thin upstream region characterized by low mean backflow velocities and a relatively thick downstream region dominated by the intense recirculation of the mean junction vortex. In the upstream region the turbulence stresses develop in a manner qualitatively similar to those of a two-dimensional boundary layer separating in an adverse pressure gradient. In the vicinity of the junction vortex, though, the turbulence stresses are much greater and reach’ values many times larger than those normally observed in turbulent flows. These large stresses are associated with bimodal (double-peaked) histograms of velocity fluctuations produced by a velocity variation that is bistable. These observations are consistent with large-scale low-frequency unsteadiness of the instantaneous flow structure associated with the junction vortex. This unsteadiness seems to be produced by fluctuations in the momentum and vorticity of fluid from the outer part of the boundary layer which is recirculated as it impinges on the leading edge of the wing. Though we would expect these fluctuations to be produced by coherent structures in the boundary layer, frequencies of the large-scale unsteadiness are substantially lower than the passage frequency of such structures. It therefore seems that only a fraction of the turbulent structures are recirculated in this way.