When is high Reynolds number shear flow not turbulent?

Steven A. Balbus
2017 Journal of Fluid Mechanics  
Rotating flow in which the angular velocity decreases outward while the angular momentum increases is known as 'quasi-Keplerian'. Despite the general tendency of shear flow to break down into turbulence, this type of flow seems to maintain stability at very large Reynolds number, even when nonlinearly perturbed, a behaviour that strongly influences our understanding of astrophysical accretion discs. Investigating these flows in the laboratory is difficult because secondary Ekman flows, caused
more » ... man flows, caused by the retaining Couette cylinders, can become turbulent on their own. A recent high Reynolds number numerical study by Lopez & Avila (J. Fluid Mech., vol. 817, 2017, pp. 21–34) reconciles apparently discrepant laboratory experiments by confirming that this secondary flow recedes toward the axial boundaries of the container as the Reynolds number is increased, a result that enhances our understanding of nonlinear quasi-Keplerian flow stability.
doi:10.1017/jfm.2017.327 fatcat:y3r3vmpvq5g4lmfnhfq3sxv4uy