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Numerical simulations of spatially developing, accelerating boundary layers
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We present the results of direct and large-eddy simulations of spatially developing boundary layers subjected to favorable pressure gradient, strong enough to cause reversion of the flow towards a quasi-laminar state. The numerical results compare well with experimental data. Visualization of the flow structures shows the well-known stabilization of the streaks, the re-orientation of outer layer vortices in the streamwise direction, and the appearance of turbulent spots in the re-transition region. Both instantaneous visualizations and turbulent statistics highlight the significant damping of wall-normal and spanwise fluctuations. The fast component of the pressure fluctuations appears to be the main driver of this process, contributing to reduce pressure fluctuations and, as a consequence, the energy redistribution term in the Reynolds stress budgets. The streamwise stresses, in whose budget a separate production term plays a role, do not decay but remain frozen at their upstream value. The decrease of wall-normal and spanwise fluctuations appears to be the main cause of the inner-layer stabilization, by disrupting the generation and subsequent growth of streaks, consistent with various models of the turbulence-generation cycle proposed in the literature. The outer layer seems to play a passive role in this process. The stretching and reorientation of the outer-layer vortices results in a more orderly and organized structure; since fewer ejections occur, the inner layer does not break this re-organization, which is maintained until re-transition begins.
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