Smoke Rings in Water

smoke rings in water

Photo courtesy of Physical Review E
(to be published)

A smoke-ring flow pattern--or vortex ring--can develop, pinch-off, and be regenerated, all without forces, when the flow is driven by chemical reactions driven by a catalyst, speeding up or starting a reaction. The left frame shows the reaction in water, while the middle and right show it with 20 and 30 percent glycerol, respectively. The reaction produces a wave front that leaves in a more buoyant fluid, behind the wave, creating these rings. Buoyant means that the fluid is less dense than the other fluids and therefore wants to go to the top of the liquid, like a cork in water. Researchers say the effect hints at what might be possible in other situations such as under the sea, deep inside the Earth, or even in stars.

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