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  • Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Volume 472
  • December 2002, pp. 83-124

Experiments on stability and transition at Mach 3

  • PAOLO GRAZIOSI (a1) (a2) and GARRY L. BROWN (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 30 November 2002

The results of an experimental study of stability, receptivity and transition of the flat-plate laminar boundary layer at Mach 3 are discussed. With a relatively low free-stream disturbance level (∼0.1%), spectra, growth rates and amplitude distributions of naturally occurring boundary layer waves were measured using hot wires. Physical (mass-flux) amplitudes in the boundary layer and free stream are reported and provide stability and receptivity results against which predictions can be directly compared. Comparisons are made between measurements of growth rates of unstable high-frequency waves and theoretical predictions based on a non-parallel, mode-averaging stability theory and receptivity assumptions; good agreement is found. In contrast, it was found that linear stability theory does not account for the measured growth of low-frequency disturbances. A detailed investigation of the disturbance fields in the free stream and on the nozzle walls provides the basis for a discussion of the source and the development of the measured boundary layer waves. Attention is drawn to the close matching in streamwise wavelengths for instability waves and the free-stream acoustic disturbances. It was also found that a calibration of the hot wire in the free stream yields a double-peak boundary layer disturbance amplitude distribution, as has been found by previous investigators, which is not consistent with the predictions of linear stability theory. This double peak was found to be an experimental anomaly which resulted from assumptions that are frequently made in the free-stream calibration procedure. A single-peak amplitude distribution across the boundary layer was established only when the hot-wire voltage was calibrated against the mean boundary layer profile. Finally, the late stages of transition, at a higher Reynolds number with a higher free-stream disturbance level, were explored. Calibrated amplitude levels are provided at locations where nonlinearities are first detected and where the mean boundary layer profile is first observed to depart from the laminar similarity solution. A qualitative discussion of the character of ensuing nonlinearities is also included.

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With an Appendix by A. V. Fedorov.
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Journal of Fluid Mechanics
  • ISSN: 0022-1120
  • EISSN: 1469-7645
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-fluid-mechanics
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