Meeting the Wall

Even something as simple as a falling sphere meeting a wall is composed of beautiful fluid motion. In Figure 1 above, we see side-view images of a sphere at low Reynolds number falling toward a wall over several time. Initially an axisymmetric vortex ring is visible in the sphere’s wake; when the sphere touches the wall, secondary vortices form and the wake vortex moves down and out along the wall in an axisymmetric fashion (Figure 2, top view). At higher Reynolds numbers, like those in Figure 3, this axisymmetric spreading of the vortex ring develops an instability and ultimately breaks down. (Photo credit: T. Leweke et al.)

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