Cavitation happens when the local pressure in a liquid drops below its vapor pressure. A low-pressure bubble forms, typically very briefly, when this occurs. These bubbles are spherical unless they form near a surface. In that case, the bubbles take on a flatter, oblong shape. As they collapse, the bubbles form a jet, like the one seen inside the bubble above. The jet extends through the bubble and stretches into a funnel shaped protrusion on the bubble’s far side. Eventually, the whole shape becomes unstable and breaks into many smaller bubbles. Shock waves can be generated in the collapse, too; often the jet generates at least two in addition to the ones created when the bubble reaches its minimum size. This is part of why cavitation can be so destructive near a surface. (Image credit: L. Crum)

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