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Structure and stability of non-symmetric Burgers vortices

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 May 1998

Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA
Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA


We investigate, numerically and analytically, the structure and stability of steady and quasi-steady solutions of the Navier–Stokes equations corresponding to stretched vortices embedded in a uniform non-symmetric straining field, (αx, βy, γz), α+β+γ=0, one principal axis of extensional strain of which is aligned with the vorticity. These are known as non-symmetric Burgers vortices (Robinson & Saffman 1984). We consider vortex Reynolds numbers R=Γ/(2πv) where Γ is the vortex circulation and v the kinematic viscosity, in the range R=1−104, and a broad range of strain ratios λ=(β−α)/(β+α) including λ>1, and in some cases λ[Gt ]1. A pseudo-spectral method is used to obtain numerical solutions corresponding to steady and quasi-steady vortex states over our whole (R, λ) parameter space including λ where arguments proposed by Moffatt, Kida & Ohkitani (1994) demonstrate the non-existence of strictly steady solutions. When λ[Gt ]1, R[Gt ]1 and ε≡λ/R[Lt ]1, we find an accurate asymptotic form for the vorticity in a region 1<r/(2v/γ)1/2[les ]ε1/2, giving very good agreement with our numerical solutions. This suggests the existence of an extended region where the exponentially small vorticity is confined to a nearly cat's-eye-shaped region of the almost two-dimensional flow, and takes a constant value nearly equal to Γγ/(4πv)exp[−1/(2eε)] on bounding streamlines. This allows an estimate of the leakage rate of circulation to infinity as ∂Γ/∂t =(0.48475/4π)γε−1Γ exp (−1/2eε) with corresponding exponentially slow decay of the vortex when λ>1. An iterative technique based on the power method is used to estimate the largest eigenvalues for the non-symmetric case λ>0. Stability is found for 0[les ]λ[les ]1, and a neutrally convective mode of instability is found and analysed for λ>1. Our general conclusion is that the generalized non-symmetric Burgers vortex is unconditionally stable to two-dimensional disturbances for all R, 0[les ]λ[les ]1, and that when λ>1, the vortex will decay only through exponentially slow leakage of vorticity, indicating extreme robustness in this case.

Research Article
© 1998 Cambridge University Press

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