Fuck Yeah Fluid Dynamics

Celebrating the physics of all that flows. Ask a question, submit a post idea or send an email. You can also follow FYFD on Twitter and Google+. FYFD is written by Nicole Sharp, PhD.

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Posts tagged "mixing"

In satellite imagery the blue and green whorls of massive phytoplankton blooms stand out against the ocean backdrop. These microscopic organisms are part of a delicate predator-prey balance and can be very sensitive to nutrient concentrations and other environmental conditions. Their individual size is negligible, but in a bloom phytoplankton are numerous enough that they act as seed particles for the flow. As a result, differing concentrations of phytoplankton reveal the swirling, turbulent mixing of ocean waters. (Image credit: NASA/USGS; via SpaceRef; submitted by jshoer)

New research shows that supermassive first-generation stars may explode in supernovae without leaving behind remnants like black holes. The work is a result of modeling the life and death of stars 55,000 to 56,000 times more massive than our sun. When such stars reach the end of their lives, they become unstable due to relativistic effects and begin to collapse inward. The collapse reinvigorates fusion inside the star and it begins to rapidly fuse heavier elements like oxygen, magnesium, or even iron from the helium in its core. Eventually, the energy released overcomes the binding energy of the star and it explodes outward as a supernova. The image above is a slice through such a star approximately one day after its collapse is reversed. Hydrodynamic instabilities like the Rayleigh-Taylor instability produce mixing of the heavy elements throughout the expanding interior of the star. The mixing should produce a signature that can be observed in the aftermath as these stars seed their galaxies with the heavy elements needed to form planets. For more, see Science Daily and Chen et al. (Image credit: K. Chen et al., via Science Daily; submitted by mechanicoolest)

The Marangoni effect is generated by variations in surface tension at an interface. Such variations can be temperature-driven, concentration-driven, or simply due to the mixing between fluids of differing surface tensions as is the case here. The pattern in the image above formed after a dyed water droplet impacted a layer of glycerin. The initial impact of the drop formed an inner circle and outer ring. This image is from 30 seconds or so after impact, after the Marangoni instability has taken over. The higher surface tension of the water pulls the glycerin toward it, resulting in a flower-like pattern. (Photo credit: E. Tan and S. Thoroddsen)

Convection can be driven several mechanisms, including temperature and concentration differences. The video above shows convection between a a layer of sucrose solution and a layer of saline solution. Initially, the lighter sucrose layer sits over the denser salt water. After the interface is perturbed, the differences in concentration - and thus in density - between the fluids causes diffusion both upward and downward in the form of fingers. This instability behavior is analogous to salt-fingering, which occurs in the ocean when a layer of warm, salty water lies over a layer of cooler, less saline water. In the ocean, these temperature and salinity differences help drive ocean circulation as well as the mixing that occurs between different depths. (Video credit: William Jewell College)

The ethereal shapes of inks and paints falling through water make fascinating subjects. Here the ink appears to rise because the photographs are upside-down. The fluid forms mushroom-like plumes and little vortex rings. The strands that split apart into tiny lace-like fingers are an example of the Rayleigh-Taylor instability, which occurs when a denser fluid sinks into a less dense one. Similar fingering can occur on much grander scales, as well, like in the Crab Nebula. These images come from photographer Luka Klikovac's "Demersal" series. (Photo credit: L. Klikovac)

The colors of a soap film are directly related to their thickness. If a film becomes thin enough (~10 nanometers), it appears black. (Here’s why.This video shows the thinning of a vertical soap film. Normally, this is a linear process, with gravity pulling the fluid downward and progressively thinning the film from top to bottom at a constant rate. At 0:20 a cold rod slowly contacts the film, adding a thermal driver for the film’s thinning. Two large counter-rotating convection cells form underneath the rod, with weaker secondary vortices in the lower corners of the film. This drastically increases mixing in the film. Gradually small black spots, indicating very thin areas of the film, form and advect. Eventually these spots stretch, forming long tails. The thinning of the film kicks up to an exponential rate until the film becomes uniformly thin. (Video credit: M. Winkler et al.)

The Richtmyer-Meshkov instability occurs when two fluids of differing density are hit by a shock wave. The animation above shows a cylinder of denser gas (white) in still air (black) before being hit with a Mach 1.2 shock wave. The cylinder is quickly accelerated and flattened, with either end spinning up to form the counter-rotating vortices that dominate the instability. As the vortices spin, the fluids along the interface shear against one another, and new, secondary instabilities, like the wave-like Kelvin-Helmholtz instability, form along the edges. The two gases mix quickly. This instability is of especial interest for the application of inertial confinement fusion. During implosion, the shell material surrounding the fuel layer is shock-accelerated; since mixing of the shell and fuel is undesirable, researchers are interested in understanding how to control and prevent the instability. (Image credit: S. Shankar et al.)

The APS Division of Fluid Dynamics conference begins this Sunday in Pittsburgh. I’ll be giving a talk about FYFD Sunday evening at 5:37pm in Rm 306/307. I hope to see some of you there!

Turbulence is an excellent mixer. Here two fluorescent dyes are injected into a turbulent water jet. Flow is from the bottom of the image toward the top. The dyes are quickly mixed into the background fluid by momentum convection, their concentration decreasing with increased distance from the source. Large-scale structures like the eddies visible in this image drive this convection of momentum in turbulent flows. In contrast, consider laminar flows, where momentum and molecular diffusion dominate how fluids move. In such laminar flows, it’s even possible to unmix two fluids, a feat that cannot be accomplished in the jet above. (Photo credit: M. Kree et al.; via @AIP_Publishing)

Reader favoringfire asks:

Hi! Maybe you can help me: I’ve seen a pic revolving around Tumblr from the Danish city of Skagen showing the Baltic and North sea meeting. Where they meet the ocean is two very distinct hues of blue—what captions say are “two opposing tides with different densities.” Tides? Currents w/different temps often are often diff color from one another. But can “tides” be of different “densities???”

After some searching, I think the photo above is probably the one you’ve seen represented as where the Baltic and North Seas meet. It turns out, however, that it’s not. It’s a photo from an Alaskan cruise taken by Kent Smith. Fluid dynamically, though, it’s still very interesting! What we see here is a sharp gradient between regions with very different densities. One side contains lots of freshwater from rivers fed by melting glaciers, which creates a very different density from the general seawater.

It’s not true, however, that the two won’t mix. This border is not a static phenomenon but one that is ever-changing due to currents and the diffusion of one fluid into another. In a sense, this photo is very much the sea-level version of photos like these which show the massive scale of sediment transport and nutrient mixing that occur in our oceans. 

(Photo credit: K. Smith)

This lovely video from Ruslan Khasanov showcases the beautiful interplay of surface tension, diffusion, and immiscibility in common fluids. With soy sauce, oil, ink, soap, and a little gasoline, he creates a mesmerizing world of color and motion. It’s a great reminder of the wonders that populate our daily lives, if we just look closely enough to see them. (Video credit: R. Khasanov; via Wired; submitted by Trevor)