Self-Replicating Three-Dimensional Vortices in Neutrally-Stable Stratified Rotating Shear Flows
A previously unknown instability creates space-filling lattices of 3D vortices in linearly-stable, rotating, stratified shear flows. The instability starts from an easily-excited critical layer. The layer intensifies by drawing energy from the background shear and rolls-up into vortices that excite new critical layers and vortices. The vortices self-similarly replicate to create lattices of turbulent vortices. The vortices persist for all time. This self-replication occurs in stratified Couette flows and in the dead zones of protoplanetary disks where it can de-stabilize Keplerian flows.