Toroidal Vortex

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When instabilities exist in laminar flow, they do not always lead immediately to turbulence. In this video, a viscous fluid fills the space between two concentric cylinders. As the inner cylinder rotates, a linear velocity profile (as viewed from above) forms; this is known as Taylor-Couette flow. If any tiny perturbations are added to that linear profile–say there is a nick in the surface of one of the cylinders–the flow will develop an instability. In this type of flow, an exchange of stabilities will occur. Rather than transitioning to turbulence, the fluid develops a stable secondary flow–the toroidal vortex highlighted by the dye in the video. If the rotation rate is increased further other instabilities will develop.

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