The effects of vortex generators and periodic excitation on vorticity dynamics and the phenomenon of axis switching in a free asymmetric jet are studied experimentally. Most of the data reported are for a 3:1 rectangular jet at a Reynolds number of 450 000 and a Mach number of 0.31. The vortex generators are in the form of ‘delta tabs’, triangular-shaped protrusions into the flow, placed at the nozzle exit. With suitable placement of the tabs, axis switching could be either stopped or augmented. Two mechanisms are identified governing the phenomenon. One, as described by previous researchers, is due to the difference in induced velocities for different segments of a rolled-up azimuthal vortical structure. The other is due to the induced velocities of streamwise vortex pairs in the flow. While the former mechanism, referred to here as the ωθ-dynamics, is responsible for a rapid axis switching in periodically forced jets, e.g. screeching supersonic jets, the effect of the tabs is governed mainly by the latter mechanism, referred to as the ωx-dynamics. Both dynamics can be active in a natural asymmetric jet; the tendency for axis switching caused by the ωθ-dynamics may be, depending on the streamwise vorticity distribution, either resisted or enhanced by the ωx-dynamics. While this simple framework qualitatively explains the various observations made on axis switching, mechanisms actually in play may be much more complex. The two dynamics are not independent as the flow field is replete with both azimuthal and streamwise vortical structures which continually interact. Phase-averaged measurements for a periodically forced case, over a volume of the flow field, are carried out in an effort to gain insight into the dynamics of these vortical structures. The results are used to examine such processes as the reorientation of the azimuthal vortices, the resultant evolution of streamwise vortex pairs, as well as the redistribution of streamwise vortices originating from secondary flow within the nozzle.
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