The effect of uniform surface blowing and suction on the wake dynamics and the drag and lift forces on a sphere is studied using a high-resolution direct numerical simulation technique. The sphere Reynolds number Re, based on its diameter and the freestream velocity, is in the range 1–300. The onset of recirculation in the sphere wake occurs at higher Re, and the transition to nonaxisymmetry and unsteadiness occurs at lower Re in the presence of blowing. The size of the recirculation region increases with blowing, but it nearly disappears in the case of suction. Wake oscillation also increases in the presence of blowing. The drag coefficient in the presence of blowing is reduced compared to that in uniform flow, in the range 10<Re<250, whereas it is increased in the presence of suction. The reduction in the wake pressure minimum associated with the enhanced vortical structures is the primary cause for drag reduction in the case of blowing. In the case of suction, it is the increased surface vorticity associated with the reduction of the boundary layer that results into increased drag. The fluctuations in the instantaneous lift and drag coefficients are significant for blowing, and they result from the asymmetric movement of the wake pressure minimum associated with the shedding process.

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