Global modes and transient response of a cold supersonic jet

Joseph W. Nichols, Sanjiva K. Lele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Global-mode analysis is applied to a cold, M = 2.5 laminar jet. Global modes of the non-parallel jet capture directly both near-field dynamics and far-field acoustics which, in this case, are coupled by Mach wave radiation. In addition to type (a) modes corresponding to Kelvin-Helmholtz instability, it is found that the jet also supports upstream-propagating type (b) modes which could not be resolved by previous analyses of the parabolized stability equations. The locally neutrally propagating part of a type (a) mode consists of the growth and decay of an aerodynamic wavepacket attached to the jet, coupled with a beam of acoustic radiation at a low angle to the jet downstream axis. Type (b) modes are shown to be related to the subsonic family of modes predicted by Tam & Hu (1989). Finally, significant transient growth is recovered by superposing damped, but non-normal, global modes, leading to a novel interpretation of jet noise production. The mechanism of optimal transient growth is identified with a propagating aerodynamic wavepacket which emits an acoustic wavepacket to the far field at an axial location consistent with the peaks of the locally neutrally propagating parts of type (a) modes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-241
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Feb 25 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge support from NASA grant no. NNX07AC94A. J.W.N. thanks Professor Parviz Moin for his continuing guidance and support and Dr Olaf Marxen for many fruitful discussions throughout the course of this work. The authors are grateful also to the anonymous referees whose insightful suggestions helped to significantly improve this manuscript.


  • absolute/convective instability
  • jet noise
  • jets


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