Mixing Physics

When a dense fluid sits above a lighter fluid in a gravitational field, the interface between the two fluids is unstable. It breaks down via a Rayleigh-Taylor instability, with mushroom-like protrusions of the lighter fluid into the heavier one. The image above comes from a numerical simulation of this effect well after the initial instability; the darker colors represent denser fluids and lighter colors are less dense fluids. The flow here has progressed to turbulence, and the authors of the simulation are exploring the statistical nature of this flow breakdown relative to the classical case of isotropic, homogeneous turbulence. (Photo credit: W. Cabot and Y. Zhou)

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