Shock wave/boundary layer interactions occur in a wide range of supersonic internal and external flows, and often these interactions are associated with turbulent boundary layer separation. The resulting separated flow is associated with large-scale, low-frequency unsteadiness whose cause has been the subject of much attention and debate. In particular, some researchers have concluded that the source of low-frequency motions is in the upstream boundary layer, whereas others have argued for a downstream instability as the driving mechanism. Owing to substantial recent activity, we are close to developing a comprehensive understanding, albeit only in simplified flow configurations. A plausible model is that the interaction responds as a dynamical system that is forced by external disturbances. The low-frequency dynamics seem to be adequately described by a recently proposed shear layer entrainment-recharge mechanism. Upstream boundary layer fluctuations seem to be an important source of disturbances, but the evidence suggests that their impact is reduced with increasing size of the separated flow.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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