Phenomena

Supersonic Flow

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This video shows a sphere in a small supersonic wind tunnel at Mach 2.7. Once the tunnel starts, a curved bow shock forms in front of the sphere, close to but not touching the model’s surface. Areas of low pressure are visible behind the sphere, as is a weak shock wave caused by overexpansion in those low pressure areas. Contrast this with a sharp cone in the same tunnel at the same Mach number. In the case of the cone, the shock wave is attached at the nose of the model. The attached shock follows the body more closely, resulting in a shock that impacts the walls of the tunnel further downstream than in the sphere’s case.

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