DR GARY SETTLES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR GARY SETTLES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Candle flame, schlieren image. Schlieren photography is an imaging technique that is used to show changes in the density of fluids and gases such as air, caused here by the heat of the candle flame. The rising convective plume of hot air and combustion products from the burning candle forms a laminar cylindrical flow for several centimetres. It then undergoes characteristic wave-like instabilities for another few centimetres before erupting into turbulence. This phenomenon is called laminar-to-turbulent-flow transition. It is one of most difficult phenomena in fluid mechanics to predict accurately.
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