Receptivity of compressible mixing layers to general source distributions is examined by a combined theoretical/computational approach. The properties of solutions to the adjoint Navier–Stokes equations are exploited to derive expressions for receptivity in terms of the local value of the adjoint solution. The result is a description of receptivity for arbitrary small-amplitude mass, momentum, and heat sources in the vicinity of a mixing-layer flow, including the edge-scattering effects due to the presence of a splitter plate of finite width. The adjoint solutions are examined in detail for a Mach 1.2 mixing-layer flow. The near field of the adjoint solution reveals regions of relatively high receptivity to direct forcing within the mixing layer, with receptivity to nearby acoustic sources depending on the source type and position. Receptivity ‘nodes’ are present at certain locations near the splitter plate edge where the flow is not sensitive to forcing. The presence of the nodes is explained by interpretation of the adjoint solution as the superposition of incident and scattered fields. The adjoint solution within the boundary layer upstream of the splitter-plate trailing edge reveals a mechanism for transfer of energy from boundary-layer stability modes to Kelvin–Helmholtz modes. Extension of the adjoint solution to the far field using a Kirchhoff surface gives the receptivity of the mixing layer to incident sound from distant sources.
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