Axisymmetric vortex breakdown part 2. physical mechanisms

G. L. Brown, J. M. Lopez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

321 Scopus citations


The physical mechanisms for vortex breakdown which, it is proposed here, rely on the production of a negative azimuthal component of vorticity, are elucidated with the aid of a simple, steady, inviscid, axisymmetric equation of motion. Most studies of vortex breakdown use as a starting point an equation for the azimuthal vorticity (Squire 1960), but a departure in the present study is that it is explored directly and not through perturbations of an initial stream function. The inviscid equation of motion that is derived leads to a criterion for vortex breakdown based on the generation of negative azimuthal vorticity on some stream surfaces. In viscid predictions are tested against results from numerical calculations of the Navier—Stokes equations for which breakdown occurs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)553-576
Number of pages24
Journaljournal of fluid mechanics
StatePublished - Dec 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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