Mach Cones and Other Supersonic Goodness

0db98c79cc28640b
Some of the more spectacular aviation photographs are of jets breaking the sound barrier.  Often the pressure variation causes the moisture in the air to condense making the Mach cone visible.  This is similar to but different than the vapor clouds often seen forming around aircraft at airshows as they maneuver.  Most of these pictures are taken at sea as there are prohibitions against aircraft breaking the sound barrier over the continental U.S.  Here an F/A-18F goes transonic.
070824-N-0684R-060
An F/A-18C Hornet, from the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, breaks the sound barrier while making a high-speed pass close to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) during an air power demonstration. Many of these fly-bys were performed for service members’ family and friends who were invited to get underway with the ship. There are no Mach restrictions on the open ocean, so U.S. Navy aircraft are often the subjects.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ron Reeves, taken 24AUG07)
110531-N-DR144-595
An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 113 breaks the sound barrier over the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) during an air power demonstration. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans, taken 31MAY11)
F22
An Air Force F-22 Raptor executes a supersonic flyby over the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). The Stennis was participating in Northern Edge 2009, a joint exercise focusing on detecting and tracking units at sea, in the air and on land. The Raptor is forming condensation within its wingtip vortexes along with a Mach cone.  (U.S. Navy photo by Sonar Technician (Surface) 1st Class Ronald Dejarnett, taken 22JUN09)
SONY DSC
A Navy F/A-18F with a Mach cone visible is also showing another compressibility effect in its jet exhaust, known as a shock diamonds.  These are formed as the pressure fluctuations within the engine’s supersonic exhaust plume cause unburned fuel to combust.
SR71ShockCone
A beautiful photograph of an SR-71 displaying a series of shock diamonds in its exhaust.
NASAT38_22FEB19(s)
Using special photographic techniques, NASA was recently able to record the formation and interactions of the shock waves formed around two T-38s for the first time.  The photograph was taken earlier this year on 22FEB19.
AtlantisSTS106_08SEP00
Spacecraft also experience Mach effects, and often adjust their thrust to minimize vibrations until they reach altitudes where the atmosphere is thinner.  Space Shuttles went transonic approximately 45 seconds after launch.  Here is the Atlantis mission STS-106 on 08SEP00 with the shock wave forming a rainbow effect.
SolarDynamicsObservatoryLaunch11FEB10
An even more spectacular phenomenon was caused by the Solar Dynamics Observatory launch on 11FEB10.  During this mission the shock waves interacted with ice crystals in the atmosphere and formed ripples as they passed.  A Mach cone is also visible at the nose of the rocket.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s