Turbulence and internal waves in side-heated convection

Andrew Belmonte, Andreas Tilgner, Albert Libchaber

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20 Scopus citations


We present an experimental study of the convective motion of gas contained in a cubic cell heated from the side. The Rayleigh number (Ra) is varied from 4×105 to 1×1011 by changing the pressure of the gas. Using local temperature probes and shadowgraph visualization, we observe two distinct types of motion coexistent in the cell: turbulent flow and waves. A turbulent large scale circulation around the periphery of the cell, with side eddies along each plate, is observed for Ra>3×107. The turbulent fluctuations are confined to the regions near the hot and cold plates, while the bulk of the cell is stably stratified. We measure the thermal boundary layer thickness; its scaling with Ra has an exponent close to 2/7, as measured in Rayleigh-Bénard convection. In the central part of the cell, we observe internal waves, with a frequency corresponding to the Brunt- Väisälä frequency of the mean vertical temperature gradient. This system provides a laboratory environment for the study of fluctuation-generated gravitational waves in stratified gases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5681-5687
Number of pages7
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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