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Initiation of turbulence and chaos in non-equilibrium inhomogeneous media: wave beams

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Article number475501
Journal publication date25/11/2011
JournalJournal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical
Number of pages10
Original languageEnglish


We show that wave excitation and propagation in an inhomogeneous medium lead to the simultaneous appearance of a huge number of waves with different phase velocities. This phenomenon arises in any medium with inhomogeneous parameters, e. g., in fluid jets where the inhomogeneity appears as a result of the boundary layer. Because of fluctuations (however small) the waves become randomized, i.e. turbulence develops. We demonstrate that the eigenvalues depend essentially on the frequency of the perturbation and on the distance from the initial section of a jet or wave beam. We show how to find the continuous set of eigenvalues-complex wavenumbers-and corresponding eigenfunctions for any given frequency. The implication of these results is that the transition to turbulence occurs, not through the excitation of a gradually increasing number of waves, as commonly supposed, but by the simultaneous excitation of a continuous wave spectrum.