What Supersonic Looks Like

It's been over six decades since Chuck Yaeger broke the sound barrier, but photos of fighter jets hitting Mach 1 has always fascinated us. Here's a new photo of an Air Force F-22 Raptor  aircraft breaking the sound barrier while performing aerial maneuvers in the Gulf of Alaska:

The phenomenon is not well studied. Scientists refer to it as a vapor cone, shock collar, or shock egg, and it's thought to be created by what's called a Prandtl-Glauert singularity.

Here's what scientists think happens:

A layer of water droplets gets trapped between two high-pressure surfaces of air. In humid conditions, condensation can gather in the trough between two crests of the sound waves produced by the jet. This effect does not necessarily coincide with the breaking of the sound barrier, although it can.


From the Upcoming ueue, submitted by Geekazoid.

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"a Prandtl-Glauert singularity"


Wow, that sounds a lot like some of them terms they use in Star-Trek to make Warp-Drive plausible...!

> Scotty we need full Warp right now!!!
- Jim that is impossible because the Prandtl-Glauert singularity needs time to build up and that takes 3 nano-seconds more, so you have to wait!
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