Journal of Fluid Mechanics

An experimental investigation of screech noise generation

a1 Modern Technologies Corporation, Middleburg Heights, OH 44130, USA and NASA Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, OH 44135, USA; email:


The screech noise generation process from supersonic underexpanded jets, issuing from a sonic nozzle at pressure ratios of 2.4 and 3.3 (fully expanded Mach number, Mj=1.19 and 1.42), was investigated experimentally. The extremely detailed data provide a fresh, new look at the screech generation mechanism. Spark schlieren visualization at different phases of the screech cycle clearly shows the convection of the organized turbulent structures over a train of shock waves. The potential pressure field (hydrodynamic fluctuations) associated with the organized structures is fairly intense and extends outside the shear layer. The time evolution of the near-field pressure fluctuations was obtained from phase-averaged microphone measurements. Phase-matched combined views of schlieren photographs and pressure fluctuations show the sound generation process. The individual compression and rarefaction parts of the sound waves are found to be generated from similar hydrodynamic fluctuations. A partial interference between the upstream-propagating sound waves and the downstream-propagating hydrodynamic waves is found to be present along the jet boundary. The partial interference manifests itself as a standing wave in the root-mean-square pressure fluctuation data. The standing wavelength is found to be close to, but somewhat different from, the shock spacing. An outcome of the interference is a curious ‘pause and go’ motion of the sound waves along the jet periphery. Interestingly, a length scale identical to the standing wavelength is found to be present inside the jet shear layer. The coherent fluctuations and the convective velocity of the organized vortices are found to be modulated periodically, and the periodicity is found to match with the standing wavelength distance rather than the shock spacing. The reason for the appearance of this additional length scale, different from the shock spacing, could not be explained. Nevertheless, it is demonstrated that an exact screech frequency formula can be derived from the simple standing wave relationship. The exact relationship shows that the correct spacing between the sources, for a point source model similar to that of Powell (1953), should be a standing wavelength (not the shock spacing).

(Received April 10 1996)
(Revised March 17 1998)