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Fluid flow revolving around an axis of rotation / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In fluid dynamics, a vortex (PL: vortices or vortexes)[1][2] is a region in a fluid in which the flow revolves around an axis line, which may be straight or curved.[3][4] Vortices form in stirred fluids, and may be observed in smoke rings, whirlpools in the wake of a boat, and the winds surrounding a tropical cyclone, tornado or dust devil.

Vortex created by the passage of an aircraft wing, revealed by colored smoke
Vortices formed by milk when poured into a cup of coffee
A Kármán vortex street is demonstrated in this photo, as winds from the west blow onto clouds that have formed over the mountains in the desert. This phenomenon observed from ground level is extremely rare, as most cloud-related Kármán vortex street activity is viewed from space

Vortices are a major component of turbulent flow. The distribution of velocity, vorticity (the curl of the flow velocity), as well as the concept of circulation are used to characterise vortices. In most vortices, the fluid flow velocity is greatest next to its axis and decreases in inverse proportion to the distance from the axis.

In the absence of external forces, viscous friction within the fluid tends to organise the flow into a collection of irrotational vortices, possibly superimposed to larger-scale flows, including larger-scale vortices. Once formed, vortices can move, stretch, twist, and interact in complex ways. A moving vortex carries some angular and linear momentum, energy, and mass, with it.