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Passive directors in turbulence

Journal article
Authors L. Zhao
Kristian Gustavsson
R. Ni
S. Kramel
G. A. Voth
H. I. Andersson
Bernhard Mehlig
Published in Physical Review Fluids
Volume 4
Issue 5
ISSN 2469-990X
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Physics (GU)
Language en
Keywords ellipsoidal particles, fluid-mechanics, heavy-particles, motion, phytoplankton, orientation, patterns, fields, flow
Subject categories Physical Sciences


In experiments and numerical simulations we measure angles between the symmetry axes of small spheroids advected in turbulence (passive directors). Since turbulent strains tend to align nearby spheroids, one might think that their relative angles are quite small. We show that this intuition fails in general because angles between the symmetry axes of nearby particles are anomalously large. We identify two mechanisms that cause this phenomenon. First, the dynamics evolves to a fractal attractor despite the fact that the fluid velocity is spatially smooth at small scales. Second, this fractal forms steps akin to scar lines observed in the director patterns for random or chaotic two-dimensional maps.

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