Expansion of a Rarefied Gas Cloud in a Vacuum: Asymptotic Treatment
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The unsteady expansion of a rarefied gas of finite mass in an unlimited space is studied. The long-time asymptotic behavior of the solution is examined at Knudsen numbers tending to zero. An asymptotic analysis shows that, in the limit of small Knudsen numbers, the behavior of the macroscopic parameters of the expanding gas cloud at long times (i.e., for small density values) has nothing to do with the free-molecular or continuum flow regimes. This conclusion is unexpected and not obvious, but follows from a uniformly suitable solution constructed by applying the method of outer and inner asymptotic expansions. In particular, the unusual temperature behavior is of interest as applied to remote sensing of rocket exhaust plumes.
KeywordsBoltzmann equation model kinetic equation Knudsen number distribution function macroscopic parameters matching of outer and inner asymptotic expansions
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