Mechanics of viscous vortex reconnection

Fazle Hussain, Karthik Duraisamy

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70 Scopus citations


This work is motivated by our long-standing claim that reconnection of coherent structures is the dominant mechanism of jet noise generation and plays a key role in both energy cascade and fine-scale mixing in fluid turbulence [F. Hussain, Phys. Fluids 26, 2816 (1983); J. Fluid Mech. 173, 303 (1986)]. To shed further light on the mechanism involved and quantify its features, the reconnection of two antiparallel vortex tubes is studied by direct numerical simulation of the incompressible Navier-Stokes equations over a wide range (250-9000) of the vortex Reynolds number, Re (=circulation/ viscosity) at much higher resolutions than have been attempted. Unlike magnetic or superfluid reconnections, viscous reconnection is never complete, leaving behind a part of the initial tubes as threads, which then undergo successive reconnections (our cascade and mixing scenarios) as the newly formed bridges recoil from each other by self-advection. We find that the time tR for orthogonal transfer of circulation scales as tRνRe-3/4. The shortest distance d between the tube centroids scales as dνa[Re(t0-t)]3/4 before reconnection (collision) and as dνb[Re(t -t0)]2 after reconnection (repulsion), where t0 is the instant of smallest separation between vortex centroids. We find that b is a constant, thus suggesting self-similarity, but a is dependent on Re. Bridge repulsion is faster than collision and is more autonomous as local induction predominates, and, given the associated acceleration of vorticity, is potentially a source of intense sound generation. At the higher Re studied, the tails of the colliding threads are compressed into a planar jet with multiple vortex pairs. For Re>6000, there is an avalanche of smaller scales during the reconnection, the rate of small scale generation and the spectral content (in vorticity, transfer function and dissipation spectra) being quite consistent with the structures visualized by the λ2 criterion. The maximum rate of vortex circulation transfer, enstrophy production, and dissipation scale as Re1, Re7/4, and Re-1/2, respectively. A more detailed study of subsequent reconnection of threads requires much higher-resolution simulations that are currently not feasible.

Original languageEnglish
Article number021701
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 18 2011


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