On the structure of high-Reynolds-number supersonic turbulent boundary layers

Eric F. Spina, John F. Donovan, Alexander J. Smits

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Experimental results are presented that reveal key features of the large-scale organized structures in a supersonic, turbulent boundary layer. Measurements were obtained in a Mach 3 zero-pressure-gradient boundary layer using a crossed-wire probe and arrays of normal hot wires with vertical, spanwise, and streamwise separations ranging from 0.1 to 0.68. Space-time correlation results indicate the existence of large-scale structures of a size comparable to δ, with a spanwise extent only slightly less than the vertical scale. The convection velocity of the large-scale motions is nearly constant across 80% of the boundary layer and is equal to approximately 0.9Uα. It is shown that positive events detected with the VITA conditional sampling technique correspond to steep gradients in the streamwise mass flux which extend across most of the boundary layer. These sharp gradients appear to be the upstream interfaces of large-scale turbulent ‘bulges’, similar to those seen in incompressible boundary layers. In a reference frame moving with the convection speed of the sharp gradients, low-momentum fluid is observed rotating on a large-scale, while high-momentum fluid forms a saddle point on the upstream edge of the large-scale motion. These motions are associated with elevated levels of the shear product, emphasizing their role in the dynamics of the boundary layer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-327
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Jan 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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