Transition to turbulence in hypersonic flow over a compression ramp due to intrinsic instability

Shibin Cao, Jiaao Hao, Igor Klioutchnikov, Chih Yung Wen, Herbert Olivier, Karl Alexander Heufer

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


In this work, a transition process in a hypersonic flow over a cold-wall compression ramp is studied using direct numerical simulation (DNS) and global stability analysis (GSA). The free-stream Mach number and the Reynolds number based on the flat-plate length are 7.7 and, respectively. The shock-induced pressure rise causes the boundary layer to separate on the flat plate, forming a separation bubble around the corner. Without introducing any external disturbances, the DNS captures the transition to turbulence downstream of flow reattachment. The DNS results agree well with the experimental data as well as theoretical predictions. To uncover the intrinsic instability in the flow system, GSA is employed to investigate the three-dimensionality of the two-dimensional base flow. Several stationary and oscillatory unstable modes are revealed, which result in spanwise periodicity inside and downstream of the separation bubble. The GSA and DNS results indicate that the intrinsic instability of the flow system triggers the formation of streamwise counter-rotating vortices and boundary-layer streaks near reattachment. The downstream transition to turbulence starts from the breakdown of the streamwise vortices and streaks. Moreover, the second harmonic of the most unstable global mode and a broadband low-frequency unsteadiness occur in the saturated flow, which has a significant influence on the transition process. In summary, the present study demonstrates a transition process in a hypersonic compression-ramp flow as a result of the intrinsic instability of the flow system.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA8
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2022


  • boundary layer separation
  • shock waves
  • transition to turbulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Transition to turbulence in hypersonic flow over a compression ramp due to intrinsic instability'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this