A method for visualizing streaklines in hypervelocity flows has been developed. The method uses the high temperatures produced in hypervelocity flows to ablate small amounts of sodium deposited onto a wire stretched across the flow and to broaden the lines in the sodium spectrum. By using a dye laser, tuned to a wavelength close to one of the sodium D-lines, as the light source in shadowgraph or Schlieren visualization, streaklines seeded with sodium become visible through absorption and/or enhanced refractivity. The technique has been used to investigate the stability of the shear layer produced by the curved bow shock on a cylindrically blunted wedge. The results suggest that the shear layer is unstable, exhibiting structures with a wavelength that is comparable to half the nose radius of the body.


Mechanical Engineering



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