|The interaction of two co-rotating trailing vortices, it is well-known that vortices of like-sign ultimately merge to form a single vortex, and there has been much work on measuring and predicting the initial conditions for the onset of merger, especially concerning the critical vortex core radius. However, the physical mechanism causing this merger has received little attention. In this work, we directly measure the structure of the antisymmetric vorticity field that causes the co-rotating vortices to be pushed towards each other during merger. We discover that the form of the antisymmetric vorticity comprises two counter-rotating vortex pairs, whose induced velocity field readily pushes the two centroids together. The merging velocity computed from the antisymmetric vorticity field agrees closely with the merging velocity measured directly from the total (original) flow field. Vortex merging plays an important role in the evolution of aircraft trailing wakes. Any lifting surface, such as the wing of an aircraft, generates a vortex sheet which sheds into the wake. The distribution of vorticity in the wake is dictated by the geometry and lift distribution of the lifting surface.
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