It is known that in classical fluids turbulence typically occurs at high Reynolds numbers. But can turbulence occur at low Reynolds numbers? Here we investigate the transition to turbulence in the classic Taylor-Couette system in which the rotating fluids are manufactured ferrofluids with magnetized nanoparticles embedded in liquid carriers. We find that, in the presence of a magnetic field transverse to the symmetry axis of the system, turbulence can occur at Reynolds numbers that are at least one order of magnitude smaller than those in conventional fluids. This is established by extensive computational ferrohydrodynamics through a detailed investigation of transitions in the flow structure, and characterization of behaviors of physical quantities such as the energy, the wave number, and the angular momentum through the bifurcations. A finding is that, as the magnetic field is increased, onset of turbulence can be determined accurately and reliably. Our results imply that experimental investigation of turbulence may be feasible by using ferrofluids. Our study of transition to and evolution of turbulence in the Taylor-Couette ferrofluidic flow system provides insights into the challenging problem of turbulence control.
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