The Physics To Go website will be unavailable Friday evening through Saturday afternoon as electrical work occurs in the American Center of Physics server room. Down time will begin at 6PM Eastern Time on Friday. Service is expected to resume by 6PM on Saturday, July 30.

June 16, 2010 Issue

Physics To Go 99 - Supersonic

« Previous issue         Issue Archive         Next issue »

Physics in Your World

Scientific American: What happens when an aircraft breaks the sound barrier? image
image credit: U.S. Navy photo/Petty Officer 1st Class Ronald Dejarnett; Image source; Larger image

Scientific American: What happens when an aircraft breaks the sound barrier?

This is an Air Force F-22 Raptor producing a cloud as it breaks the sound barrier above an aircraft carrier. To learn more about how the cloud forms, and see a similar photo, check out Scientific American: What happens when an aircraft breaks the sound barrier?

To learn more, see Hyperphysics' Sound barrier.

(This feature was updated on August 31, 2013.)

Login to Comment on this Item


Physics at Home

The Doppler Effect and Sonic Booms

Check out The Doppler Effect and Sonic Booms for animations of the sound source moving at various factions of the speed of sound, with related background information and lots of interesting images. For a related simulation, where you control the speed of a supersonic bug, see NASA's Interactive Sound Waves.


Search/Browse

From Physics Research

Shock Diamonds and Mach Disks  image
Image credit NASA; Image source; larger image

Shock Diamonds and Mach Disks

When the speed of the gases in a jet or rocket exhaust exceeds the speed of sound, a dazzling pattern results called "shock diamonds" or "Mach disks," as shown in this photo of the SR-71 Blackbird. The diamonds are created by crisscrossing shock waves in the exhaust.

You can see shock diamonds in a static rocket test in this NASA video. For more information, check out Shock Diamonds and Mach Disks.


Worth a Look

Faster than Sound

Visit Nova's Faster than Sound to find out how Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in 1947 in the Bell X-1. You'll find recollection from the X-1's pilots and one of the X-1's designers, and learn about the historical background as well. In the Speed Machines section, you can find out about speed records in the air, on land, and on water.


Recent Submissions