19
Jun
When an F/A -18 Hornet breaks the sound barrier
This image, taken by the US Navy in 1999, captures an F/A-18 Hornet breaking the sound barrier in the skies over the Pacific Ocean. It’s a stunning image, but what exactly does ‘breaking the sound barrier’ mean?
Well according to Tobias Rossmann, a research engineer with Advanced Projects Research, the answer lies in our understanding of sound as a wave and its finite speed of propogation.
If you think about what an echo sounds like, this is a similar concept. What you are hearing are sound waves reflecting off a distant surface at a relatively slow rate of propogation.
However in the case of an F/A 18 Horner, the aircraft is able to move at a speed that is sometimes able to catch up with the sound waves it is emitting. As explained by Rossmann,

As its speed increases to the ‘sonic velocity’ (the local velocity of sound waves), the sound waves begin to pile up in front of the aircraft and, with sufficient acceleration, can burst through the barrier and move ahead of the radiated sound.

The result? A spectacular sight like the one shown above, and a sonic boom heard from the ground. So the next time you see a military aircraft or hear one emitting an explosive boom, you know exactly what, scientifically, is going down (hopefully not the aircraft as well).

When an F/A -18 Hornet breaks the sound barrier

This image, taken by the US Navy in 1999, captures an F/A-18 Hornet breaking the sound barrier in the skies over the Pacific Ocean. It’s a stunning image, but what exactly does ‘breaking the sound barrier’ mean?

Well according to Tobias Rossmann, a research engineer with Advanced Projects Research, the answer lies in our understanding of sound as a wave and its finite speed of propogation.

If you think about what an echo sounds like, this is a similar concept. What you are hearing are sound waves reflecting off a distant surface at a relatively slow rate of propogation.

However in the case of an F/A 18 Horner, the aircraft is able to move at a speed that is sometimes able to catch up with the sound waves it is emitting. As explained by Rossmann,

As its speed increases to the ‘sonic velocity’ (the local velocity of sound waves), the sound waves begin to pile up in front of the aircraft and, with sufficient acceleration, can burst through the barrier and move ahead of the radiated sound.

The result? A spectacular sight like the one shown above, and a sonic boom heard from the ground. So the next time you see a military aircraft or hear one emitting an explosive boom, you know exactly what, scientifically, is going down (hopefully not the aircraft as well).

135 Notes

  1. daniel-wells reblogged this from decaturjim
  2. the-jamjam reblogged this from decaturjim
  3. diamond-studded-flunkies reblogged this from decaturjim
  4. toohitoremember reblogged this from decaturjim
  5. lacklusterknight reblogged this from decaturjim
  6. chcunnin reblogged this from decaturjim
  7. surprisinglynotgay reblogged this from decaturjim
  8. pokegrumps reblogged this from decaturjim
  9. lindseythug reblogged this from decaturjim
  10. pantyslay3r reblogged this from decaturjim
  11. rjayshylo reblogged this from decaturjim
  12. dajuanreyes reblogged this from decaturjim
  13. dancam1210 reblogged this from decaturjim and added:
    How said science isn’t cool?
  14. setholivares reblogged this from decaturjim
  15. holycorruption reblogged this from decaturjim
  16. sleepdeprivedengineer reblogged this from decaturjim and added:
    Legit this this is the exact picture that was in my high school physics teachers classroom.
  17. kirkjameskirk reblogged this from kirks-coach-handbag
  18. eramirez1983 reblogged this from decaturjim
  19. nmz12 reblogged this from decaturjim
  20. ohjuzzwong reblogged this from decaturjim
  21. iamtheastronaut reblogged this from decaturjim
  22. maxswellhitthelip reblogged this from decaturjim
  23. araehtz01 reblogged this from decaturjim
  24. kushandfriends reblogged this from bobchik
  25. breelea reblogged this from royaltykush
  26. royaltykush reblogged this from bobchik
  •  

About This Blog

SCIENCE has explained nothing; the more we know the more fantastic the world becomes and the profounder the surrounding darkness.

Aldous Huxley, 1894-1963.

This blog resides firmly at the intersection of scientific research, education, art, and communication. Herein lies information and current happenings related to each, as well as any other sciencey goodness worth sharing.

About Me

Hi there, I'm Jim: PhD student in the biological sciences, enthusiast, friendly neighbor.

Contact Me

rationaldiscoveryblog@gmail.com

Follow me on Twitter