A linear stability theory is presented for the boundary-layer flow produced by an infinite disc rotating at constant angular velocity in otherwise undisturbed fluid. The theory is developed in the limit of long waves and when the effects of viscosity on the waves can be neglected. This is the parameter regime recently identified by the author in a numerical stability investigation where a curious new type of instability was found in which disturbances propagate and grow exponentially in the direction normal to the disc, (i.e. the growth takes place in a region of zero mean shear). The theory describes the mechanisms controlling the instability, the role and location of critical points, and presents a saddle-point analysis describing the large-time evolution of a wave packet in frames of reference moving normal to the disc. The theory also shows that the previously obtained numerical solutions for numerically large wavelengths do indeed lie in the asymptotic long-wave regime, and so the behaviour and mechanisms described here may apply to a number of cross-flow instability problems.
One contribution of 19 to a Theme ‘New developments and application in rapid fluid flows’.
- © 2005 The Royal Society