Towards simulating natural transition in hypersonic boundary layers via random inflow disturbances

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68 Scopus citations


A random forcing approach was implemented into a high-order accurate finite-difference code in order to investigate 'natural' laminar-turbulent transition in hypersonic boundary layers. In hypersonic transition wind-tunnel experiments, transition is caused 'naturally', by free-stream disturbances even when so-called quiet tunnels are employed such as the Boeing/AFOSR Mach 6 Quiet Tunnel (BAM6QT) at Purdue University. The nature and composition of the free-stream disturbance environment in high-speed transition experiments is difficult to assess and therefore largely unknown. Consequently, in the direct numerical simulations (DNS) presented here, the free-stream disturbance environment is simply modelled by random pressure (acoustic) disturbances with a broad spectrum of frequencies and a wide range of azimuthal wavenumbers. Results of a high-resolution DNS for a flared cone at Mach 6, using the random forcing approach, are presented and compared to a fundamental breakdown simulation using a 'controlled' disturbance input (with a specified frequency and azimuthal wavenumber). The DNS results with random forcing clearly exhibit the 'primary' and 'secondary' streak pattern, which has previously been observed in our 'controlled' breakdown simulations and the experiments in the BAM6QT. In particular, the spanwise spacing of the 'primary' streaks for the random forcing case is identical to the spacing obtained from the 'controlled' fundamental breakdown simulation. A comparison of the wall pressure disturbance signals between the random forcing DNS and experimental data shows remarkable agreement. The random forcing approach seems to be a promising strategy to investigate nonlinear breakdown in hypersonic boundary layers without introducing any bias towards a distinct nonlinear breakdown mechanism and/or the selection of specific frequencies or wavenumbers that is required in the 'controlled' breakdown simulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberR3
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Jul 25 2018


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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