EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 407, Number 3, September I 2003
Page(s) 779 - 786
Section Cosmology
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20030867

A&A 407, 779-786 (2003)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20030867

On hydrodynamic shear turbulence in stratified Keplerian disks: Transient growth of small-scale 3D vortex mode perturbations

A. G. Tevzadze1, G. D. Chagelishvili1, J.-P. Zahn2, R. G. Chanishvili1 and J. G. Lominadze1

1  Center for Plasma Astrophysics, Abastumani Astrophysical Observatory, Kazbegi 2a, 380060 Tbilisi, Georgia
    e-mail: aleko@tevza.org
2  LUTH, Observatoire de Paris, 92190 Meudon, France

(Received 24 March 2003 / Accepted 3 June 2003 )

This is a sequel to Paper I (Chagelishvili et al. 2003), where we presented the so-called bypass concept for the onset of turbulence in shearing flows. According to this concept, which was worked out during the last decade by the hydrodynamic community for spectrally stable flows, vortical perturbations undergo transient growth by extracting energy from the shear (a linear process), thereby reaching an amplitude which is sufficient to allow for non-linear interactions which, by positive feedback, sustain turbulence. In Paper I we described this transient growth for 2D perturbations in a Keplerian disk; we showed that their kinematics was the same as in plane-parallel flow, and thus that they were not modified by the presence of the Coriolis force. In the present paper, we pursue our goal of applying the bypass scenario to astrophysical disks: we investigate the linear dynamics of 3D small-scale vortical perturbations for single spatial harmonics, in stably stratified, differentially rotating disks, again in the framework of a nonmodal analysis. We find that these 3D perturbations also undergo substantial transient growth, and that they reach a peak amplitude that is comparable to that of 2D perturbations, as long as their vertical scale remains of the order of the azimuthal scale. When the vertical wave-number exceeds the azimuthal one, the amplification rate is reduced, but this may be more than compensated to by the huge Reynolds number and the high shear rate characterizing astrophysical Keplerian disks. Whereas in 2D the Coriolis force had no impact on the transient growth, in 3D this force somewhat constricts the characteristics of the perturbation dynamics in disk flows, and the initial transient growth is followed by some reduction in amplitude. These differences are quantitative, rather than of fundamental character. But the 3D case presents two interesting novelties. In plane parallel flow, the perturbations do not decay after their transient amplification, but their energy stays on a plateau before being dissipated through viscous friction. More importantly, especially for the astrophysicist, in disk flow the 3D vortex mode perturbations excite density-spiral waves, whose energy also settles on a plateau before viscous dissipation. These local vortex mode perturbations fit naturally into the bypass concept of hydrodynamic shear turbulence, which was first developed for plane-parallel flows. We submit that these perturbations will also play an important role in the onset and in the maintenance of turbulence in Keplerian disks.

Key words: accretion, accretion disks -- hydrodynamics -- instabilities -- turbulence

Offprint request: J.-P. Zahn, jean-paul.zahn@obspm.fr

© ESO 2003