This study investigates the stability and transition of Görtler vortices in a hypersonic boundary layer using linear stability theory and direct numerical simulations. In the simulations, Görtler vortices are separately excited by wall blowing and suction with spanwise wavelengths of 3, 6 and 9 mm. In addition to primary streaks with the same wavelength as the blowing and suction, secondary streaks with half the wavelength also emerge in the 6 and 9 mm cases. The streaks develop into mushroom structures before breaking down. The breakdown processes of the three cases are dominated by a sinuous-mode instability, a varicose-mode instability and a combination of the two, respectively. Both fundamental and subharmonic instabilities are relevant in all cases. Multiple modes are identified in the secondary-instability stage, some of which originate from the primary instabilities (first and second Mack modes). We demonstrate that the first Mack mode can be destabilized to either a varicose-mode or sinuous-mode streak instability depending on its frequency and wavelength, whereas the second Mack mode undergoes a stabilizing stage before turning into a varicose mode in the 6 and 9 mm cases. An energy analysis reveals the stabilizing and destabilizing mechanisms of the primary instabilities under the influence of Görtler vortices, highlighting the role played by the spanwise production based on the spanwise gradient of the streamwise velocity in both varicose and sinuous modes. The effects introduced by the secondary streaks are examined by filtering the secondary streaks in two new simulations with nominally identical conditions to those of the 6 and 9 mm cases. Remarkably, the secondary streaks can destabilize the Görtler vortices, therefore advancing the transition. The stability theory results are in good agreement with those from direct numerical simulations.
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