Phenomena

Bottle Rocket Shock Waves

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This high speed video shows schlieren photography of a bottle rocket’s exhaust. The supersonic CO2 leaving the nozzle is underexpanded, meaning its pressure is still higher than the ambient atmosphere. As a result, a series of diamond-shaped shock waves and expansion fans appear in the exhaust jet. Each shock and expansion changes the pressure of the exhaust until it ultimately reaches the same pressure as the ambient air. This distinctive pattern, also known as Mach diamonds or shock diamonds, often occurs in wake of rockets. (Video credit: P. Peterson and P. Taylor)

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