On the impact of swirl on the growth of coherent structures

K. Oberleithner, C. O. Paschereit, I. Wygnanski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Spatial linear stability analysis is applied to the mean flow of a turbulent swirling jet at swirl intensities below the onset of vortex breakdown. The aim of this work is to predict the dominant coherent flow structure, their driving instabilities and how they are affected by swirl. At the nozzle exit, the swirling jet promotes shear instabilities and, less unstable, centrifugal instabilities. The latter stabilize shortly downstream of the nozzle, contributing very little to the formation of coherent structures. The shear mode remains unstable throughout generating coherent structures that scale with the axial shear-layer thickness. The most amplified mode in the nearfield is a co-winding double-helical mode rotating slowly in counter-direction to the swirl. This gives rise to the formation of slowly rotating and stationary large-scale coherent structures, which explains the asymmetries in the mean flows often encountered in swirling jet experiments. The co-winding single-helical mode at high rotation rate dominates the farfield of the swirling jet in replacement of the co-and counter-winding bending modes dominating the non-swirling jet. Moreover, swirl is found to significantly affect the streamwise phase velocity of the helical modes rendering this flow as highly dispersive and insensitive to intermodal interactions, which explains the absence of vortex pairing observed in previous investigations. The stability analysis is validated through hot-wire measurements of the flow excited at a single helical mode and of the flow perturbed by a time-and space-discrete pulse. The experimental results confirm the predicted mode selection and corresponding streamwise growth rates and phase velocities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-199
Number of pages44
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • absolute/convective instability
  • turbulent flows
  • wakes/jets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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