Research

Inside a Champagne Pop

A man removes a champagne cork.

When the cork pops on a bottle of champagne, the physics is akin to that of a missile launch in more ways than one. In this study, researchers used computational fluid dynamics to closely examine the gases that escape behind the cork. They identified three phases to the flow. In the first, the exhaust gases form a crown-shaped expansion region, complete with shock diamonds. Once the cork has moved far enough downstream, the axial flow accelerates to supersonic speeds and a bow shock forms behind the cork. Finally, the pressure in the bottle drops low enough that supersonic conditions cannot be maintained and the flow becomes subsonic. (Image credit: top – Kindel Media, simulation – A. Benidar et al.; research credit: A. Benidar et al.; via Ars Technica; submitted by Kam-Yung Soh)

A numerical simulation showing the ejection of a champagne cork from a bottle. The colors indicate the speed of gases escaping from the bottle.
A numerical simulation showing the ejection of a champagne cork from a bottle. The colors indicate the speed of gases escaping from the bottle.
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