Phenomena

Streamlines in Oil

Bernoulli’s principle describes the relationship between pressure and velocity in a fluid: in short, an increase in velocity is accompanied by a drop in pressure and vice versa. This photo shows the results left behind by oil-flow visualization after subsonic flow has passed over a cone (flowing right to left). The orange-pink stripes mark the streamlines of air passing around the Pitot tube sitting near the surface. The streamlines bend around the mouth of probe, leaving behind a clear region. This is a stagnation point of the flow, where the velocity goes to zero and the pressure reaches a maximum. Pitot tubes measure the stagnation pressure, and, when combined with the static pressure (which, counterintuitively, is the pressure measured in the moving fluid), can be used to calculate the velocity or, for supersonic flows, the Mach number of the local flow. (Photo credit: N. Sharp)

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