The two-dimensional stationary flow past a rotating cylinder is investigated for both two- and three-dimensional perturbations. The instability mechanisms are analysed using linear stability analysis and the complete neutral curve is presented. It is shown that the first bifurcation in the case of the rotating cylinder occurs for stationary three-dimensional perturbations, confirming recent experiments. Interestingly, the critical Reynolds number at high rotation rates is lower than that for the stationary circular cylinder. The spatial characteristics of the disturbance and a qualitative comparison with the results obtained for linear flows suggest that the stationary unstable three-dimensional mode could be of hyperbolic nature.
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