Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 February 2020
Vortex breakdown (VB) in swirling jets can be classified as either a bubble (BVB) or a conical (CVB) form based on the shape of its recirculation zone. The present study investigates the hysteresis features of these forms in laminar swirling jets using direct numerical simulations. It is established here that BVB and CVB are bistable forms in a large swirl range and for a Reynolds number of 200 (based on jet radius and centreline velocity). Considerable differences were observed in the length scales associated with the two, with the approximate recirculation zone diameters of the BVB and CVB being 1 and 15 jet diameters, respectively. Additionally, two types of BVB were observed, identified as a two-celled BVB with spiral tail and an asymmetric BVB. The former is characterized by an almost steady bubble with a two-celled structure. By contrast, the entire bubble envelope oscillated in a non-axisymmetric fashion for the latter. These two types of BVB themselves were found to coexist in a small swirl range. A global linear stability analysis was used to show that two different unstable single helical modes are associated with these two types. In comparison to using the base flow, a stability analysis performed on the mean flow was found to predict the coherent features of asymmetric BVB observed in the simulations more precisely. This study highlights the rich variety of VB flow states that coexist in various ranges of swirl strengths and the significance of hysteresis effects in laminar swirling jets.