Cavitation – the formation and collapse of low-pressure bubbles in a liquid – can be highly destructive, shattering containers, stunning prey, and damaging machinery. Inside an enclosure, cavitation can happen repeatedly. Above, a spark is used to generate an initial cavitation bubble, which expands on the right side of the screen. After its maximum expansion, the bubble collapses, forming jets on either end that collide as the bubble shrinks. Shock waves form during the collapse, too, although in this case, they are not visible.
Those shock waves travel to either end of the tube, where they reflect. The reflected waves behave differently; they are now expansion waves rather than shock waves. Their passage causes lower pressure. The two expansion waves meet one another toward the left end of the tube, in the area where a cloud of secondary cavitation bubbles form after the first bubble collapses. Pressure waves continue to reflect back and forth in the tube, causing the leftover clouds of tiny bubbles to expand and contract. (Image credit: C. Ji et al., source)