Astronomy Picture of the Day

A Sonic Boom

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#102793 by @ 20.08.2007 00:00 - nach oben -
A Sonic Boom

Is this what a sonic boom looks like?

When an airplane travels at a speed faster than sound,
density waves of sound emitted by the plane
cannot precede the plane, and so
accumulate in a cone behind the plane.

When this
shock wave passes, a listener hears all at once the sound emitted over a longer period: a
sonic boom.

As a plane accelerates to just break the
sound barrier, however, an unusual cloud might form.

The origin of this cloud is still debated.

A leading theory is that a drop in air pressure at the plane
described by the
Prandtl-Glauert Singularity occurs so that moist air
condenses there to form water droplets.

Above, an
F/A-18 Hornet was photographed just as it
broke the sound barrier.

Large meteors and the
space shuttle frequently produce audible

sonic booms
before they are slowed below sound speed by the
Earth's atmosphere.

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