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Encyclopedia > Sonic boom
A sonic boom produced by an aircraft moving at twice the speed of sound. An observer hears the boom when the shock wave, on the edges of the cone, crosses his location
A sonic boom produced by an aircraft moving at twice the speed of sound. An observer hears the boom when the shock wave, on the edges of the cone, crosses his location

The term sonic boom is commonly used to refer to the shocks caused by the supersonic flight of an aircraft. Sonic booms generate enormous amounts of sound energy, sounding a lot like an explosion. Thunder is a type of natural sonic boom, created by the rapid heating and expansion of air in a lightning discharge.[1] Sonic boom may refer to: Sonic boom, a shockwave, usually caused by aircraft travelling faster than sound Peter Kember, a British musician more commonly known as Sonic Boom The signature move used by Guile of the Street Fighter series The theme song for the US release of the game Sonic... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... A United States Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in transonic flight. ... For other uses, see Thunder (disambiguation). ...

Contents

Causes

When an object passes through the air, it creates a series of pressure waves in front of it and behind it, similar to the bow and stern waves created by a boat. These waves travel at the speed of sound, and as the speed of the object increases, the waves are forced together, or compressed, because they cannot "get out of the way" of each other, eventually merging into a single shock wave at the speed of sound. This critical speed is known as Mach 1 and is approximately 1,225 kilometers per hour (761 mph) at sea level.


In smooth flight, the shock wave starts at the nose of the aircraft and ends at the tail. There is a sudden rise in pressure at the nose, decreasing steadily to a negative pressure at the tail, whereas after the object passes, the pressure eventually returns to normal. This "overpressure profile" is known as the N-wave because of its shape. The "boom" is experienced when there is a sudden rise in pressure, so the N-wave causes two booms, one when the initial pressure rise from the nose hits, and another when the tail passes and the pressure suddenly returns to normal. This leads to a distinctive "double boom" from supersonic aircraft. When maneuvering, the pressure distribution changes into different forms, with a characteristic U-wave shape. Since the boom is being generated continually as long as the aircraft is supersonic, it traces out a path on the ground following the aircraft's flight path, known as the boom forest[citation needed].

Two different engine designs using a spike nozzle. A nacelle around the engine reflects any shock waves A spike behind the engine converts them into thrust. The inlet shockwave in the second case requires active stabilization, as was achieved with the J-58.
Two different engine designs using a spike nozzle. A nacelle around the engine reflects any shock waves A spike behind the engine converts them into thrust. The inlet shockwave in the second case requires active stabilization, as was achieved with the J-58.
To generate lift, a supersonic aircraft has to produce at least two shock waves: One over-pressure downwards wave, and one under-pressure upwards wave. Whitcomb area rule states air displacement can be reused without generating additional shock waves. In this case the fuselage reuses some displacement of the wings.
To generate lift, a supersonic aircraft has to produce at least two shock waves: One over-pressure downwards wave, and one under-pressure upwards wave. Whitcomb area rule states air displacement can be reused without generating additional shock waves. In this case the fuselage reuses some displacement of the wings.

A sonic boom can also be heard on prop planes, even though they do not travel at the speed of sound. The high rotation speed of its rotors is usually faster than sound, creating the "beating, humming" noise of a prop plane. Image File history File links Summary A cage around the engine reflects any shock waves. ... Image File history File links Summary A cage around the engine reflects any shock waves. ... J58 on full afterburner, showing shock diamonds The Pratt & Whitney J58 (also known as the JT11D) was the jet engine used on the Lockheed A-12 OXCART, and subsequently on the YF-12 and SR-71 Blackbird aircraft. ... Image File history File links To generate lift a supersonic airplane has to produce at least two shock waves: One over-pressure downwards wave, and one under-pressure upwards wave. ... Image File history File links To generate lift a supersonic airplane has to produce at least two shock waves: One over-pressure downwards wave, and one under-pressure upwards wave. ... The Whitcomb area rule (sometimes just called the area rule) is a design technique used to reduce an aircrafts drag at transonic speeds, speeds between about Mach 0. ...


Characteristics

The power, or volume, of the shock wave is dependent on the quantity of air that is being accelerated, and thus the size and shape of the aircraft. As the aircraft increases speed the shocks grow "tighter" around the craft and do not become much "louder". At very high speeds and altitudes the cone does not intersect the ground and no boom is heard. The "length" of the boom from front to back is dependent on the length of the aircraft to a factor of 3:2[citation needed]. Longer aircraft therefore "spread out" their booms more than smaller ones, which leads to a less powerful boom.


Several smaller shock waves can, and usually do, form at other points on the aircraft, primarily any convex points or curves, the leading wing edge and especially the inlet to engines. These secondary shockwaves are caused by the air being forced to turn around these convex points, which generates a shock wave in supersonic flow.


The later shock waves are somehow faster than the first one, travel faster and add to the main shockwave at some distance away from the aircraft to create a much more defined N-wave shape. This maximizes both the magnitude and the "rise time" of the shock which makes the boom seem louder. On most designs the characteristic distance is about 40,000 feet (12,000 m), meaning that below this altitude the sonic boom will be "softer". However, the drag at this altitude or below makes supersonic travel particularly inefficient, which poses a serious problem.


Abatement

In the late 1950s when supersonic transport (SST) designs were being actively pursued, it was thought that although the boom would be very large, the problems could be avoided by flying higher. This premise was proven false when the North American B-70 Valkyrie started flying, and it was found that the boom was a problem even at 70,000 feet (21,000m). It was during these tests that the N-wave was first characterized. The Concorde supersonic transport has a delta wing, a slender fuselage and four underslung Olympus engines. ... The North American XB-70 Valkyrie was conceived for the Strategic Air Command in the 1950s as a high-altitude bomber that could fly three times the speed of sound (Mach 3). ... To help compare different orders of magnitude this page lists lengths between 10 and 100 km (104 to 105 m). ...


Richard Seebass and his colleague Albert George at Cornell University studied the problem extensively and eventually defined a "figure of merit" (FM) to characterize the sonic boom levels of different aircraft. FM is a function of the aircraft weight and the aircraft length. The lower this value, the less boom the aircraft generates, with figures of about 1 or lower being considered acceptable. Using this calculation, they found FM's of about 1.4 for Concorde and 1.9 for the Boeing 2707. This eventually doomed most SST projects as public resentment mixed with politics eventually resulted in laws that made any such aircraft impractical (flying only over water for instance). Another way to express this is wing span. The fuselage of even large supersonic aeroplanes is very sleek and with enough angle of attack and wing span the plane can fly so high that the boom by the fuselage is not important. The larger the wing span, the greater the downwards impulse which can be applied to the air, the greater the boom felt. A smaller wing span favors small aeroplane designs like business jets. Seebass-George also worked on the problem from another angle, trying to spread out the N-wave laterally and temporally (longitudinally), by producing a strong and downwards-focused (SR-71 Blackbird, Boeing X-43) shock at a sharp, but wide angle nosecone, which will travel at slightly supersonic speed (bow shock), and using a swept back flying wing or an oblique flying wing to smooth out this shock along the direction of flight (the tail of the shock travels at sonic speed). To adapt this principle to existing planes, which generate a shock at their nose-cone and an even stronger one at their wing leading edge, the fuselage below the wing is shaped according to the area rule. Ideally this would raise the characteristic altitude from 40,000 feet to 60,000 feet (from 12,000 m to 18,000 m), which is where most SST aircraft fly. Cornell redirects here. ... For other uses, see Concorde (disambiguation). ... The Boeing 2707 was developed as the first American supersonic transport (SST). ... Business jet (slang, Bizjet) is a term for a jet aircraft, usually of modest size, designed for transporting small groups of business people for commercial reasons at a time convenient to their business needs. ... SR-71 redirects here. ... NASA technicians working on the X-43A at the tip of a Pegasus rocket attached to a Boeing B-52B prior to launch (March 27, 2004) The X-43 is an unmanned experimental hypersonic aircraft design with multiple planned scale variations meant to test different aspects of highly supersonic flight. ... Introduction The shock wave is one of several different ways in which a gas in a supersonic flow can be compressed. ... A Northrop YB-49 flying wing. ... Oblique wing The Oblique wing, Ames-Dryden-1 (1979), is another example of a variable geometry aircraft. ... Junkers patent drawing from March 1944. ...


This remained untested for decades, until DARPA started the Quiet Supersonic Platform project and funded the Shaped Sonic Boom Demonstration (SSBD) aircraft to test it. SSBD used an F-5 Freedom Fighter. The F-5E was modified with a highly refined shape which lengthened the nose to that of the F-5F model. The fairing extended from the nose all the way back to the inlets on the underside of the aircraft. The SSBD and was tested over a two year period culminating in 21 flights and was an extensive study on sonic boom characteristics. After measuring the 1,300 recordings, some taken inside the shock wave by a chase plane, the SSBD demonstrated a reduction in boom by about one-third. Although one-third is not a huge reduction, it could have reduced Concorde below the FM = 1 limit for instance. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technology for use by the military. ... This F-5E was modified by NASA for a constant area beyond drag optimum to reduce the sonic boom Shaped Sonic Boom Demonstration used a F-5 Freedom Fighter modified with a new body shape, and was tested over a two year period in what has become the most extensive... The F-5 Freedom Fighter (or Tiger II) is a low cost entry level supersonic fighter aircraft, designed and built by Northrop in the United States, beginning in 1962. ... A chase plane is an aircraft that chases a test aircraft. ...


As a follow-on to SSBD, in 2006 a NASA-Gulfstream Aerospace team tested the Quiet Spike on an NASA-Dryden's F-15B aircraft 836. The Quiet Spike is a telescoping boom fitted to the nose of an aircraft specifically designed to weaken the strength of the shock waves forming on the nose of the aircraft at supersonic speeds. Over 50 test flights were performed. Several flights included probing of the shockwaves by a second F-15B, NASA's Intelligent Flight Control System testbed, aircraft 837. For other uses, see NASA (disambiguation). ... Gulfstream G200 Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation is a producer of several models of private jets. ... A flight control system consists of the flight control surfaces, the respective cockpit controls, connecting linkage, and necessary operating mechanisms to control aircraft in flight The basic fundamentals of aircraft controls has been explained in aeronautics. ...


There are theoretical designs that do not appear to create sonic booms at all, such as the Busemann's Biplane. Busemanns Biplane is a conceptual airframe design that inherently prohibits the formation of N-type shockwaves and thus does not create a sonic boom. ...


Perception and noise

The sound of a sonic boom depends largely on the distance between the observer and the aircraft shape producing the sonic boom. A sonic boom is usually heard as a deep double "boom" as the aircraft is usually some distance away. However, as those who have witnessed landings of space shuttles have heard, when the aircraft is nearby the sonic boom is a sharper "bang" or "crack". The sound is much like the "aerial bombs" used at firework displays. This article is about the space vehicle. ... A fireworks event (fireworks display, fireworks show) is a spectacular display of the effects produced by firework devices on various occasions. ...


In 1964, NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration began the Oklahoma City sonic boom tests, which caused eight sonic booms per day over a period of six months. Valuable data was gathered from the experiment, but 15,000 complaints were generated and ultimately entangled the government in a class action lawsuit, which it lost on appeal in 1969. For other uses, see NASA (disambiguation). ... FAA redirects here. ... The Oklahoma City sonic boom tests, also known as Operation Bongo II, refer to a controversial experiment in which 1,253 sonic booms were unleashed on Oklahoma City, Oklahoma over a period of six months in 1964. ... In law, a class action is an equitable procedural device used in litigation for determining the rights of and remedies, if any, for large numbers of people whose cases involve common questions of law and fact. ...


There has been recent work in this area, notably under DARPA's Quiet Supersonic Platform studies. Research by acoustics experts under this program began looking more closely at the composition of sonic booms, including the frequency content. Several characteristics of the traditional sonic boom "N" wave can influence how loud and irritating it can be perceived by listeners on the ground. Even strong N-waves such as those generated by Concorde or military aircraft can be far less objectionable if the rise time of the overpressure is sufficiently long. A new metric has emerged, known as perceived loudness, measured in PLdB. This takes into account the frequency content, rise time, etc.


The composition of the atmosphere is also a factor. Temperature variations, humidity, pollution, and winds can all have an effect on how a sonic boom is perceived on the ground. Even the ground itself can influence the sound of a sonic boom. Hard surfaces such as concrete, pavement, and large buildings can cause reflections which may amplify the sound of a sonic boom. Similarly grassy fields and lots of foliage can help attenuate the strength of the overpressure of a sonic boom.


Currently there is no industry accepted standards for the acceptability of a sonic boom. Until such metrics can be established, either through further study or supersonic overflight testing, it is doubtful that legislation will be enacted to remove the current prohibition on supersonic overflight in place in several countries, including the United States.


Bullwhip

The cracking sound a bullwhip makes when properly wielded is, in fact, a sonic boom. The end of the whip, known as the "cracker", moves faster than the speed of sound, thus resulting in the sonic boom.[2] The whip was the first human invention to break the sound barrier. A bullwhip is a single-tailed whip, usually made of braided leather, which was originally used as a farmers tool for working with livestock. ...


A bullwhip tapers down from the handle section to the cracker. The cracker has much less mass than the handle section. When the whip is sharply swung, the energy is transferred down the length of the tapering whip. In accordance with the formula for kinetic energy (Ek = mv2 / 2), the velocity of the whip increases with the decrease in mass, which is how the whip reaches the speed of sound and causes a sonic boom.


See also

The Concorde supersonic transport has a delta wing, a slender fuselage and four underslung Olympus engines. ... For other uses, see Concorde (disambiguation). ...

References

  1. ^ The Science of Thunder. Retrieved on 2008-02-20.
  2. ^ http://www.americanscientist.org/template/AssetDetail/assetid/17894
  1. Crackin' Good Mathematics
2008 (MMVIII) is the current year, a leap year that started on Tuesday of the Anno Domini (or common era), in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 51st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ...

  Results from FactBites:
 
Factsheets : Sonic Boom : Sonic Boom (1033 words)
The strongest sonic boom ever recorded was 144 pounds per square foot and it did not cause injury to the researchers who were exposed to it.
Boom intensity is greatest directly under the flight path, progressively weakening with greater horizontal distance away from the aircraft flight track.
For steady supersonic flight, the boom is described as a carpet boom since it moves with the aircraft as it maintains supersonic speed and altitude.
NationMaster - Encyclopedia: Shaped Sonic Boom Demonstration (566 words)
Shaped Sonic Boom Demonstration used a F-5 Freedom Fighter modified with a new body shape, and was tested over a two year period in what has become the most extensive study on the sonic boom to date.
NASA's sonic boom mitigation project (SBMP) is the successor to SSBE and is the one whose plans to build a second demonstrator have been cut short.
In contrast to the (super)sonic boom of an aircraft, this "tunnel boom" is caused by a rapid change of subsonic flow (due to the sudden narrowing of the surrounding space) rather than by a shock wave.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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