The regular reflection→Mach reflection transition in unsteady flow over convex surfaces

M. Geva, O. Ram, O. Sadot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The non-stationary transition from regular reflection (RR) to Mach reflection (MR) over convex segments has been the focus of many recent studies. Until recently, the problem was thought to be very complicated because it was believed that many parameters such as the radius of curvature, initial angle and geometrical shape of the reflecting surface influenced this process. In this study, experiments and inviscid numerical computations were performed in air ( \unicode[STIX]{x1D6FE}=1.4) at an incident shock-wave Mach number of 1.3. The incident shock waves were reflected over cylindrical and elliptical convex surfaces. The computations were validated by high-resolution experiments, which enabled the detection of features in the flow having characteristic lengths as small as 0.06Â mm. Therefore, the RR →MR transition and Mach stem growth were successfully validated in the early stages of the Mach stem formation and closer to the surface than ever before. The evolution of the RR, the transition to MR and the Mach stem growth were found to depend only on the radius of the reflecting surface. The reflected shock wave adjusts itself to the changing angles of the reflecting surface. This feature, which was demonstrated at Mach numbers 1.3 and 1.5, distinguishes the unsteady case from the self-similar pseudo-steady case and requires the formulation of the conservation equations. A modification of the standard two-shock theory (2ST) is presented to predict the flow properties behind a shock wave that propagates over convex surfaces. Until recently, the determination of the time-dependent flow properties was possible solely by numerical computations. Moreover, this derivation explains the controversial issue on the delay in the transition from the RR to the MR that was observed by many researchers. It turns out that the entire RR evolution and the particular moment of transition to MR, are based on the essential 'no-penetration' condition of the flow. Therefore, we proposed a simple geometrical criterion for the RR →MR transition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-79
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - 25 Feb 2018


  • compressible flows
  • shock waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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