Phenomena

Shock Trains

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In compressible flows, shock waves are singularities, a tiny distance across which the density, temperature, and pressure of a fluid change suddenly and discontinuously. In this video, there is a wedge at the top and bottom of the frame and a Pitot probe roughly in the center. Flow is left to right and is initially subsonic. Once Mach 6 flow is established in the wind tunnel, a series of shock waves and expansion fans appear as light and dark lines in this schlieren video. Oblique shocks extend from the sharp tip of each wedge and interfere to create a normal shock in front of the Pitot probe. The air that passes through the normal shock is subsonic to the right of the shock, whereas air that goes through the oblique shocks remains supersonic. The fainter lines further to the right are weaker shock waves and expansion fans that reflect off the walls and probe. They exist to continue turning the airflow around the probe and to equalize conditions between different regions. (Video credit: C. Mai et al.)

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