The influence of variable density on the stability of the flow between two rotating cylinders is re-examined. The instability is shown to set in as an oscillatory secondary flow which was overlooked by previous investigators. Results indicate that the radial temperature gradient destabilizes the flow if the outer cylinder is hotter than the inner one, and the destabilizing effect is enhanced if the Prandtl number is high. For the case where the inner cylinder is hotter than the outer one, the stabilizing effect due to the temperature gradient is shown to be weak for any Prandtl number. This modifies previous results which predicted a very high stabilizing effect due to the temperature gradient. The bifurcating structure of the stability curve is shown.

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