Rotordynamic instability can be disastrous for the operation of high speed turbomachines in the industry. Most ‘instabilities’ are due to de-stabilizing cross coupled forces from variable fluid dynamic pressure around a rotor component, acting in the direction of forward whirl and causing subsynchronous orbiting of the rotor. However, all subsynchronous whirling are not unstable and methods to diagnose the potentially unstable kind from the benign are critical to the health of the rotor-bearing system. In this study, methods to demarcate between the two are detailed. Orbit shape, “frequency tracking” and agreement of subsynchronous frequencies with known eigenvalues are used as diagnostic tools. It is shown that a change in synchronous phase angle produced by de-stabilizing cross coupled forces can be used as a definitive indicator of incipient instability. Typical signatures of subharmonic vibrations induced from non-linear stiffness of the rotor- bearing system are examined analytically and through experiments.

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