Direct numerical simulation of complete transition to turbulence via oblique breakdown at Mach 3

Christian S.J. Mayer, Dominic A. Von Terzi, Hermann F. Fasel

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112 Scopus citations


A pair of oblique waves at low amplitudes is introduced in a supersonic flat-plate boundary layer at Mach 3. Its downstream development and the concomitant process of laminar to turbulent transition is then investigated numerically using linear-stability theory, parabolized stability equations and direct numerical simulations (DNS). In the present paper, the linear regime is studied first in great detail. The focus of the second part is the early and late nonlinear regimes. It is shown how the disturbance wave spectrum is filled up by nonlinear interactions and which flow structures arise and how these structures locally break down to small scales. Finally, the study answers the question whether a fully developed turbulent boundary layer can be reached by oblique breakdown. It is shown that the skin friction develops such as is typical of transitional and turbulent boundary layers. Initially, the skin friction coefficient increases in the streamwise direction in the transitional region and finally decays when the early turbulent state is reached. Downstream of the maximum in the skin friction, the flow loses its periodicity in time and possesses characteristic mean-flow and spectral properties of a turbulent boundary layer. The DNS data clearly demonstrate that oblique breakdown can lead to a fully developed turbulent boundary layer and therefore it is a relevant mechanism for transition in two-dimensional supersonic boundary layers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-42
Number of pages38
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - May 10 2011


  • compressible boundary layers
  • transition to turbulence
  • turbulence simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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