Spatially and temporally resolved measurements of turbulent Rayleigh-Bénard convection by Lagrangian particle tracking of long-lived helium-filled soap bubbles


  • Johannes Bosbach German Aerospace Center (DLR), Germany
  • Daniel Schanz German Aerospace Center (DLR), Germany
  • Phillip Godbersen German Aerospace Center (DLR), Germany
  • Andreas Schröder German Aerospace Center (DLR), Germany



Shake-the-Box, Lagrangian particle tracking, Rayleigh-Bénard convection, helium-filled soap bubbles


We present spatially and temporally resolved velocity and acceleration measurements of turbulent RayleighBénard convection spanning the whole volume (~ 1 m³) of a cylindrical sample with aspect ratio one. With the "Shake-The-Box" (STB) Lagrangian particle tracking (LPT) algorithm, we were able to instantaneously track up to 560,000 particles, corresponding to mean inter-particle distances down to 6 - 8 Kolmogorov lengths. We used the data assimilation scheme ‘FlowFit’, which involves continuity and Navier-Stokesconstraints, to map the scattered velocity and acceleration data on cubic grids, herewith recovering the smallest flow scales. Lagrangian and Eulerian visualizations reveal the dynamics of the large-scale circulation and its interplay with small scale structures, such as thermal plumes and turbulent background fluctuations. As a result, the complex time-dependent behavior of the LSC comprising azimuthal rotations, torsional oscillation and sloshing can be extracted from the data. Further, we found more seldom dynamic events, such as spontaneous reorientations of the LSC in the data from long-term measurements.






3D Methods and Applications