Filming the invisible – time-resolved visualization of compressible flows
School of Engineering and Information Technology, UNSW@ADFA Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia
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Essentially all processes in gasdynamics are invisible to the naked eye as they occur in a transparent medium. The task to observe them is further complicated by the fact that most of these processes are also transient, often with characteristic times that are considerably below the threshold of human perception. Both difficulties can be overcome by combining visualization methods that reveal changes in the transparent medium, and high-speed photography techniques that “stop” the motion of the flow. The traditional approach is to reconstruct a transient process from a series of single images, each taken in a different experiment at a different instant. This approach, which is still widely used today, can only be expected to give reliable results when the process is reproducible. Truly time-resolved visualization, which yields a sequence of flow images in a single experiment, has been attempted for more than a century, but many of the developed camera systems were characterized by a high level of complexity and limited quality of the results. Recent advances in digital high-speed photography have changed this situation and have provided the tools to investigate, with relative ease and in sufficient detail, the true development of a transient flow with characteristic time scales down to one microsecond. This paper discusses the potential and the limitations one encounters when using density-sensitive visualization techniques in time-resolved mode. Several examples illustrate how this approach can reveal and explain a number of previously undetected phenomena in a variety of highly transient compressible flows. It is demonstrated that time-resolved visualization offers numerous advantages which normally outweigh its shortcomings, mainly the often-encountered loss in resolution. Apart from the capability to track the location and/or shape of flow features in space and time, adequate time-resolved visualization allows one to observe the development of deliberately introduced near-isentropic perturbation wavelets. This new diagnostic tool can be used to qualitatively and quantitatively determine otherwise inaccessible thermodynamic properties of a compressible flow.
© EDP Sciences, Springer-Verlag, 2010