Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 April 2006
Direct numerical simulation of turbulent homogeneous shear flow is performed in order to clarify compressibility effects on the turbulence growth in the flow. The two Mach numbers relevant to homogeneous shear flow are the turbulent Mach number Mt and the gradient Mach number Mg. Two series of simulations are performed where the initial values of Mg and Mt are increased separately. The growth rate of turbulent kinetic energy is observed to decrease in both series of simulations. This ‘stabilizing’ effect of compressibility on the turbulent energy growth rate is observed to be substantially larger in the DNS series where the initial value of Mg is changed. A systematic comparison of the different DNS cases shows that the compressibility effect of reduced turbulent energy growth rate is primarily due to the reduced level of turbulence production and not due to explicit dilatational effects. The reduced turbulence production is not a mean density effect since the mean density remains constant in compressible homogeneous shear flow. The stabilizing effect of compressibility on the turbulence growth is observed to increase with the gradient Mach number Mg in the homogeneous shear flow DNS. Estimates of Mg for the mixing layer and the boundary layer are obtained. These estimates show that the parameter Mg becomes much larger in the high-speed mixing layer relative to the high-speed boundary layer even though the mean flow Mach numbers are the same in the two flows. Therefore, the inhibition of turbulent energy production and consequent ‘stabilizing’ effect of compressibility on the turbulence (over and above that due to any mean density variation) is expected to be larger in the mixing layer relative to the boundary layer, in agreement with experimental observations.