Postprint version. Published in Experiments in Fluids, Volume 33, Issue 1, January 1, 2002, pages 188-195. Copyright © 2002 Springer. The original publication is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00348-002-0433-8.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Patrick Lemieux was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
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.