The orientation dynamics of small prolate and oblate spheroids in linear shear flows

Ehud Gavze*, Mark Pinsky, Alexander Khain

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The present work deals with the stable orientation of oblate and prolate spheroids in general steady linear flows and with the mode of convergence to these stable orientations. The orientation dynamics is governed by the Jeffery equation. The stable orientations are either fixed points or limit cycles in the orientation space. The type of stable orientation depends on whether the eigenvalues of the linear part of Jeffery equation are real or complex. We define prolate and oblate spheroids to be equivalent if the aspect ratio of one is the reciprocal of the other. We show that, in a given flow, equivalent oblate and prolate spheroids possess the same number of fixed points and limit cycles of which only one is stable. If they possess only fixed points, then their corresponding stable fixed points are orthogonal. If they possess one fixed point and one limit cycle each, then the stable fixed point of one is orthogonal to the plane of the limit cycle of the other. The rate of convergence to these attractors is important to consideration of the orientations in time-space varying flow fields. We show that non-normal growth (NNG) of the distance to these attractors may delay the convergence by several characteristic shear time scales. We derive conditions for occurrence of NNG and explicit expressions for the maximal duration of the growth. We consider a specific case of which the vorticity is a stable orientation of prolate spheroids. We analyze the conditions that imply monotonic or, conversely, non-monotonic convergence to this orientation due to NNG. We thereby find the corresponding conditions for convergence of the equivalent oblate spheroids to their attractors, normal to the vorticity. We show that the convergence is monotonic if the vorticity is parallel to the strain tensor's largest eigenvector, but that NNG occurs if the vorticity is parallel to the strain tensor's intermediate eigenvector. The NNG duration decreases with increasing vorticity-strain ratio and with the strain intermediate eigenvalue approaching the largest eigenvalue.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)103-114
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Multiphase Flow
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Non-monotonic convergence
  • Spheroid orientations
  • Stable orientations


Dive into the research topics of 'The orientation dynamics of small prolate and oblate spheroids in linear shear flows'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this