Wave propagation reversal for wavy vortices in wide-gap counter-rotating cylindrical Couette flow

S. Altmeyer, Richard M Lueptow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a numerical study of wavy supercritical cylindrical Couette flow between counter-rotating cylinders in which the wavy pattern propagates either prograde with the inner cylinder or retrograde opposite the rotation of the inner cylinder. The wave propagation reversals from prograde to retrograde and vice versa occur at distinct values of the inner cylinder Reynolds number when the associated frequency of the wavy instability vanishes. The reversal occurs for both twofold and threefold symmetric wavy vortices. Moreover, the wave propagation reversal only occurs for sufficiently strong counter-rotation. The flow pattern reversal appears to be intrinsic in the system as either periodic boundary conditions or fixed end wall boundary conditions for different system sizes always result in the wave propagation reversal. We present a detailed bifurcation sequence and parameter space diagram with respect to retrograde behavior of wavy flows. The retrograde propagation of the instability occurs when the inner Reynolds number is about two times the outer Reynolds number. The mechanism for the retrograde propagation is associated with the inviscidly unstable region near the inner cylinder and the direction of the global average azimuthal velocity. Flow dynamics, spatio-temporal behavior, global mean angular velocity, and torque of the flow with the wavy pattern are explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number053103
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 10 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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