Journal of Fluid Mechanics

Axial flow in trailing line vortices

G. K.  Batchelor a1
a1 Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge

Article author query
batchelor gk   [Google Scholar] 


A characteristic feature of a steady trailing line vortex from one side of a wing, and of other types of line vortex, is the existence of strong axial currents near the axis of symmetry. The purpose of this paper is to account in general terms for this axial flow in trailing line vortices. the link between the azimuthal and axial components of motion in a steady line vortex is provided by the pressure; the radial pressure gradient balances the centrifugal force, and any change in the azimuthal motion with distance x downstream produces an axial pressure gradient and consequently axial acceleration.

It is suggested, in a discussion of the evolution of an axisymmetric line vortex out of the vortex sheet shed from one side of a wing, that the two processes of rolling-up of the sheet and of concentration of the vorticity into a smaller cross-section should be distinguished; the former always occurs, whereas the latter seems not to be inevitable.

In § 4 there is given a similarity solution for the flow in a trailing vortex far downstream where the departure of the axial velocity from the free stream speed is small. The continual slowing-down of the azimuthal motion by viscosity leads to a positive axial pressure gradient and consequently to continual loss of axial momentum, the asymptotic variation of the axial velocity defect at the centre being as x−1 log x.

The concept of the drag associated with the core of a trailing vortex is introduced, and the drag is expressed as an integral over a transverse plane which is independent of x. This drag is related to the arbitrary constant appearing in the above similarity solution.

(Published Online March 28 2006)
(Received April 29 1964)