Reynolds number effects on Rayleigh-Taylor Instability with Implications for Type Ia Supernovae

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Spontaneous mixing of materials at unstably stratified interfaces occurs in a wide variety of atmospheric, oceanic, geophysical and astrophysical flows. The Rayleigh-Taylor instability, in particular, plays key roles in the death of stars, planet formation and the quest for controlled thermonuclear fusion. Despite its ubiquity, fundamental questions regarding Rayleigh-Taylor instability persist. Among such questions are: Does the flow forget its initial conditions? Is the flow self-similar? What is the value of the scaling constant? How does mixing influence the growth rate? Here we show results from a 3072{sup 3} grid-point Direct Numerical Simulation in an attempt to answer these and ... continued below

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Cabot, W H & Cook, A W March 22, 2006.

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Spontaneous mixing of materials at unstably stratified interfaces occurs in a wide variety of atmospheric, oceanic, geophysical and astrophysical flows. The Rayleigh-Taylor instability, in particular, plays key roles in the death of stars, planet formation and the quest for controlled thermonuclear fusion. Despite its ubiquity, fundamental questions regarding Rayleigh-Taylor instability persist. Among such questions are: Does the flow forget its initial conditions? Is the flow self-similar? What is the value of the scaling constant? How does mixing influence the growth rate? Here we show results from a 3072{sup 3} grid-point Direct Numerical Simulation in an attempt to answer these and other questions. The data indicate that the scaling constant cannot be found by fitting a curve to the width of the mixing region (as is common practice) but can only be accurately obtained by recourse to the similarity equation for the growth rate. The data further establish that the ratio of kinetic energy to released potential energy is not constant, as has heretofore been assumed. The simulated flow reaches a Reynolds number of 32,000, far exceeding that of all previous simulations. The latter stages of the simulation reveal a weak Reynolds number dependence, which may have profound consequences for modeling Type Ia supernovae as well as other high Reynolds number flows.

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PDF-file: 32 pages; size: 0.6 Mbytes

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  • Journal Name: Nature Physics, vol. 2, no. 8, August 1, 2006, pp. 562-568

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  • Report No.: UCRL-JRNL-220083
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 899418
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc886675

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  • March 22, 2006

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  • Sept. 22, 2016, 2:13 a.m.

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  • Dec. 9, 2016, 8:23 p.m.

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Cabot, W H & Cook, A W. Reynolds number effects on Rayleigh-Taylor Instability with Implications for Type Ia Supernovae, article, March 22, 2006; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc886675/: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.