Rayleigh–Taylor instabilities in axi-symmetric fluid outflow from a point source

Lawrence K. Forbes


This paper studies outflow of a light fluid from a point source, starting from an initially spherical bubble. This region of light fluid is embedded in a heavy fluid, from which it is separated by a thin interface. A gravitational force directed radially inward toward the mass source is permitted. Because the light inner fluid is pushing the heavy outer fluid, the interface between them may be unstable to small perturbations, in the Rayleigh– Taylor sense. An inviscid model of this two-layer flow is presented, and a linearized solution is developed for early times. It is argued that the inviscid solution develops a point of infinite curvature at the interface within finite time, after which the solution fails to exist. A Boussinesq viscous model is then presented as a means of quantifying the precise effects of viscosity. The interface is represented as a narrow region of large density gradient. The viscous results agree well with the inviscid theory at early times, but the curvature singularity of the inviscid theory is instead replaced by jet formation in the viscous case. This may be of relevance to underwater explosions and stellar evolution.



interface, instability, curvature singularity, Rayleigh–Taylor flow, spectral methods, spherical coordinates, Boussinesq approximation, vorticity, one-sided outflows.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21914/anziamj.v53i0.4794

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ANZIAM Journal, ISSN 1446-8735, copyright Australian Mathematical Society.