Direct numerical simulation of a turbulent boundary layer was performed to investigate the spatially coherent structures associated with very-large-scale motions (VLSMs). The Reynolds number was varied in the range Reθ = 570–2560. The main simulation was conducted by using a computational box greater than 50δo in the streamwise domain, where δo is the boundary layer thickness at the inlet, and inflow data was obtained from a separate inflow simulation based on Lund's method. Inspection of the three-dimensional instantaneous fields showed that groups of hairpin vortices are coherently arranged in the streamwise direction and that these groups create significantly elongated low- and high-momentum regions with large amounts of Reynolds shear stress. Adjacent packet-type structures combine to form the VLSMs; this formation process is attributed to continuous stretching of the hairpins coupled with lifting-up and backward curling of the vortices. The growth of the spanwise scale of the hairpin packets occurs continuously, so it increases rapidly to double that of the original width of the packets. We employed the modified feature extraction algorithm developed by Ganapathisubramani, Longmire & Marusic (J. Fluid Mech., vol. 478, 2003, p. 35) to identify the properties of the VLSMs of hairpin vortices. In the log layer, patches with the length greater than 3δ–4δ account for more than 40% of all the patches and these VLSMs contribute approximately 45% of the total Reynolds shear stress included in all the patches. The VLSMs have a statistical streamwise coherence of the order of ~6δ; the spatial organization and coherence decrease away from the wall, but the spanwise width increases monotonically with the wall-normal distance. Finally, the application of linear stochastic estimation demonstrated the presence of packet organization in the form of a train of packets in the log layer.
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