We study, both theoretically and numerically, the equilibrium of a hinged rigid leaflet with an attached rotational spring, immersed in a stationary incompressible fluid within a rigid channel. Through a careful investigation of the properties of the domain functional describing the angular momentum exerted by the fluid on the leaflet (which depends on both the leaflet angular position and its thickness), we identify sufficient conditions on the spring stiffness function for the existence (and uniqueness) of equilibrium positions. This study resorts to techniques from shape differential calculus. We propose a numerical technique that exploits the mesh flexibility of the Virtual Element Method (VEM). A (polygonal) computational mesh is generated by cutting a fixed background grid with the leaflet geometry, and the problem is then solved with stable VEM Stokes elements of degrees 1 and 2 combined with a bisection algorithm. We prove quasi-optimal error estimates and present a large array of numerical experiments to document the accuracy and robustness with respect to degenerate geometry of the proposed methodology.
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