Direct numerical simulation of transition in a sharp cone boundary layer at Mach 6: Fundamental breakdown

Jayahar Sivasubramanian, Hermann F. Fasel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Scopus citations


Direct numerical simulations (DNS) were performed to investigate the laminar-turbulent transition in a boundary layer on a sharp cone with an isothermal wall at Mach 6 and at zero angle of attack. The motivation for this research is to make a contribution towards understanding the nonlinear stages of transition and the final breakdown to turbulence in hypersonic boundary layers. In particular, the role of second-mode fundamental resonance, or (K-type) breakdown, is investigated using high-resolution 'controlled' transition simulations. The simulations were carried out for the laboratory conditions of the hypersonic transition experiments conducted at Purdue University. First, several low-resolution simulations were carried out to explore the parameter space for fundamental resonance in order to identify the cases that result in strong nonlinear interactions. Subsequently, based on the results from this study, a set of highly resolved simulations that proceed deep into the turbulent breakdown region have been performed. The nonlinear interactions observed during the breakdown process are discussed in detail in this paper. A detailed description of the flow structures that arise due to these nonlinear interactions is provided and an analysis of the skin friction and heat transfer development during the breakdown is presented. The controlled transition simulations clearly demonstrate that fundamental breakdown may indeed be a viable path to complete breakdown to turbulence in hypersonic cone boundary layers at Mach 6.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-218
Number of pages44
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - 2015


  • boundary layer stability
  • high-speed flow
  • transition to turbulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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