Three-dimensionality of elliptical cylinder wakes at low angles of incidence

Anirudh Rao, Justin S. Leontini, Mark C. Thompson, Kerry Hourigan

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7 Citations (Scopus)


The wake of an elliptical cylinder at low incident angles is investigated for different aspect ratio cylinders using stability analysis and direct simulations. In particular, two- and three-dimensional transitions are mapped for cylinders of aspect ratios between 1 and 4 using Floquet stability analysis. The transition scenario for near-unity aspect ratio cylinders resembles that for a circular cylinder wake as Reynolds number is increased to ; first, with the transition from steady two-dimensional flow to unsteady two-dimensional flow, followed by the onset of three-dimensional flow via a long-wavelength instability (mode A), then, a short-wavelength instability (mode B) and, finally, an intermediary wavelength instability which is quasi-periodic in nature (mode QP). The effect of the incident angle on this transition scenario for the low-aspect-ratio cylinders is minimal. As the aspect ratio is increased towards 2, two synchronous modes, modes and , become unstable; these modes have spatio-temporal symmetries similar to their circular cylinder wake counterparts, modes A and mode B, respectively. While mode persists for all incident angles investigated here, mode is found only to be unstable for incident angles up to . Surprisingly, for , the mode A instability observed at zero incident angle emerges as a quasi-periodic mode as the incident angle is increased even slightly. At higher incident angles, this quasi-periodic mode once again transforms to a real mode on increasing the Reynolds number. The parameter space maps for the various aspect ratios are presented in the Reynolds number-incident angle plane, and the three-dimensional modes are discussed in terms of similarities to and differences from existing modes. A key aim of the work is to map the different modes and various transition sequences as a simple body geometry is systematically changed and as the flow symmetry is systematically broken; thus, insight is provided on the overall path towards fully turbulent flow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-283
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2017


  • parametric instability
  • vortex shedding
  • wakes

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