Stability and modal analysis of shock/boundary layer interactions

Joseph W. Nichols, Johan Larsson, Matteo Bernardini, Sergio Pirozzoli

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80 Scopus citations


The dynamics of oblique shock wave/turbulent boundary layer interactions is analyzed by mining a large-eddy simulation (LES) database for various strengths of the incoming shock. The flow dynamics is first analyzed by means of dynamic mode decomposition (DMD), which highlights the simultaneous occurrence of two types of flow modes, namely a low-frequency type associated with breathing motion of the separation bubble, accompanied by flapping motion of the reflected shock, and a high-frequency type associated with the propagation of instability waves past the interaction zone. Global linear stability analysis performed on the mean LES flow fields yields a single unstable zero-frequency mode, plus a variety of marginally stable low-frequency modes whose stability margin decreases with the strength of the interaction. The least stable linear modes are grouped into two classes, one of which bears striking resemblance to the breathing mode recovered from DMD and another class associated with revolving motion within the separation bubble. The results of the modal and linear stability analysis support the notion that low-frequency dynamics is intrinsic to the interaction zone, but some continuous forcing from the upstream boundary layer may be required to keep the system near a limit cycle. This can be modeled as a weakly damped oscillator with forcing, as in the early empirical model by Plotkin (AIAA J 13:1036–1040, 1975).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-50
Number of pages18
JournalTheoretical and Computational Fluid Dynamics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Dynamic mode decomposition
  • Global stability analysis
  • Shock/boundary layer interactions


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