Supersonic Oil Flow Viz

This image shows oil-flow visualization of a cylindrical roughness element on a flat plate in supersonic flow. The flow direction is from left to right. In this technique, a thin layer of high-viscosity oil is painted over the surface and dusted with green fluorescent powder. Once the supersonic tunnel is started, the model gets injected in the flow for a few seconds, then retracted. After the run, ultraviolet lighting illuminates the fluorescent powder, allowing researchers to see how air flowed over the surface. Image (a) shows the flat plate without roughness; there is relatively little variation in the oil distribution. Image (b) includes a 1-mm high, 4-mm wide cylinder. Note bow-shaped disruption upstream of the roughness and the lines of alternating light and dark areas that wrap around the roughness and stretch downstream. These lines form where oil has been moved from one region and concentrated in another, usually due to vortices in the roughness wake. Image © shows the same behavior amplified yet further by the 4-mm high, 4-mm wide cylinder that sticks up well beyond the edge of the boundary layer. Such images, combined with other methods of flow visualization, help scientists piece together the structures that form due to surface roughness and how these affect downstream flow on vehicles like the Orion capsule during atmospheric re-entry. (Photo credit: P. Danehy et al./NASA Langley #)

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