Three-Dimensional Instability in Flow over a Backward-Facing Step
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Journal of Fluid Mechanics (Dec 13, 2002)

Results are reported from a three-dimensional computational stability analysis of flow over a backward-facing step with an expansion ratio (outlet to inlet height) of 2 at Reynolds numbers between 450 and 1050. The analysis shows that the first absolute linear instability of the steady two-dimensional flow is a steady three-dimensional bifurcation at a critical Reynolds number of 748. The critical eigenmode is localized to the primary separation bubble and has a flat roll structure with a spanwise wavelength of 6.9 step heights. The system is further shown to be absolutely stable to two-dimensional perturbations up to a Reynolds number of 1500. Stability spectra and visualizations of the global modes of the system are presented for representative Reynolds numbers.
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