Creation and dynamics of vortex tubes in three-dimensional turbulence

Peter Constantin, Itamar Procaccia, Daniel Segel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


We examine the possibility of a blowup of the vorticity due to self-stretching and mechanisms for its prevention. We first estimate directly from the Navier-Stokes equations the length scale of coherence in the direction of the vortex lines to be of the order of the Kolmogorov length. Alignment of vortex lines is seen to be a viscous phenomenon and may prevent some scenarios for blowup. Next we derive equations for the curvature and torsion of vortex lines. We show that the same stretching that amplifies the vorticity also tends to straighten out the vortex lines. Then we show that in well-aligned vortex tubes, the self-stretching rate of the vorticity is proportional to the ratio of the vorticity and the radius of curvature. Thus blowup of the vorticity in such tubes can be prevented by the growth of the vorticity being balanced by the straightening of the vortex lines. Implications for vorticity-strain alignment and the scaling theory of turbulence are noted. Finally, we examine the effects of viscous diffusion on the vorticity field and see how viscosity can lead to organization and alignment of vortex lines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3207-3222
Number of pages16
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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