Anatomy of a laminar starting thermal plume at high Prandtl number
We present an experimental study of the dynamics of a plume generated from a small heat source in a high Prandtl number fluid with a strongly temperature-dependent viscosity. The velocity field was determined with particle image velocimetry, while the temperature field was measured using differential interferometry and thermochromic liquid crystals. The combination of these different techniques run simultaneously allows us to identify the different stages of plume development, and to compare the positions of key-features of the velocity field (centers of rotation, maximum vorticity locations, stagnation points) respective to the plume thermal anomaly, for Prandtl numbers greater than 103. We further show that the thermal structure of the plume stem is well predicted by the constant viscosity model of Batchelor (Q J R Met Soc 80: 339-358, 1954) for viscosity ratios up to 50. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.