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Author Topic: What is a sonic boom and what causes sonic booms?  (Read 9782 times)

Offline DrN

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can someone explain to me what exactly is a sonic boom? why does breaking the sound barrier result in a loud noise? perhaps I'm being really stupid here, but I've not got the energy to try and work it out for myself!
Thanks in anticipation.
« Last Edit: 02/11/2016 18:33:12 by chris »


 

Offline gsmollin

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Re: What is a Sonic Boom ?
« Reply #1 on: 09/08/2005 16:59:55 »
Any distubance, in air, water, or any other medium is transmitted through the medium at the speed of sound, in that medium. As an object moves through the medium, the medium is compressed by the passage of the object, and waves flow out in front of the object. You can see this in a boat moving slower than the speed of its bow wave. As the object reaches the speed of sound in the medium, the object catches up with the bow wave, and it becomes highly compressed. This is the shock wave. As the object exceeds the speed of sound, the supersonic shock wave forms on its leading edge, and spreads out to the sides.
 

Offline DrN

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Re: What is a Sonic Boom ?
« Reply #2 on: 10/08/2005 11:53:02 »
well, I think I'm a little nearer understanding it. so basically the sound of the sonic boom is caused by compressed sound waves?
 

Offline chris

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Re: What is a Sonic Boom ?
« Reply #3 on: 10/08/2005 13:53:49 »
As a faster-than-sound object approaches you, the sound waves it produces esseentially 'catch up' with the sound waves it produced earlier because the object is travelling faster than the speed of sound. As a result the waves all arrive at a given point at the same time, combining to produce a much bigger (louder) wave that you hear as a sonic boom.

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Offline Razor

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Re: What is a Sonic Boom ?
« Reply #4 on: 10/08/2005 14:59:14 »
The "Thrust SSC" has the land speed record does'nt it?

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Offline DrN

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Re: What is a Sonic Boom ?
« Reply #5 on: 10/08/2005 16:16:30 »
Thanks Chris, I completely understand now!
 

Offline Allison

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Re: What is a Sonic Boom ?
« Reply #6 on: 11/08/2005 03:36:10 »
As a purely irrelevant side note, I heard the sonic booms when I watched the space shuttle fly over my house on its way to Edwards Air Force Base yesterday morning...

Sorry...it was just so very cool!:D
 

Offline simeonie

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Re: What is a Sonic Boom ?
« Reply #7 on: 11/08/2005 10:44:20 »
how load is a sonic boom? Is it always the same 'loudness'?

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Re: What is a Sonic Boom ?
« Reply #8 on: 13/08/2005 14:56:25 »
I experienced a sonic boom whilst on a passenger ferry crossing the English Channel travelling from Portsmouth to St Malo France. No, before anyone panics thinking that the ferry was travelling at 800 miles per hour, we were over-flown by a Concorde (those were the days) and as it passed over there was a sudden loud double bang like a gun going off.

Concorde travels (travelled ?) at Mach 2.04 (after Austrian physicist Mach) meaning just over twice the speed of sound. The space shuttle, as noted by Allison above, travels at Mach 27 (27 times the speed of sound) so it's not surprising that she heard a noise !

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Offline neilep

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Re: What is a Sonic Boom ?
« Reply #9 on: 13/08/2005 16:09:03 »
I just did a fart that I'm sure broke the sound barrier !!..it went....frrrapprapaparp...BOOM !!...Phew !!!!

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Offline Razor

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Re: What is a Sonic Boom ?
« Reply #10 on: 14/08/2005 11:25:11 »
lol :D

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Offline simeonie

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Re: What is a Sonic Boom ?
« Reply #11 on: 14/08/2005 17:49:34 »
lol well done Neil

And I have a question. It is sort of on topic coz it is about sound......

Is there a limit to how loud something can go? There must be a limit. Is the breaking of the sound barrier sound the loudest? I don't know how loud that is though.

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Offline Razor

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Re: What is a Sonic Boom ?
« Reply #12 on: 14/08/2005 18:53:22 »
The sound barrier must be how loud you eardrums can take vibrations before they POP!:)

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Offline DrN

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Re: What is a Sonic Boom ?
« Reply #13 on: 20/08/2005 21:39:36 »
Good question Simon - is the sonic boom always the same volume and tone? we used to hear sonic booms frequently when i was a kid - can Tornadoes (the kind the RAF use, not the kind that lifts cows into the air) break the sound barrier? something certainly did, and I didn't think we were under concordes flight path (or any commerical flight path for that matter)
 

Offline simeonie

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Re: What is a Sonic Boom ?
« Reply #14 on: 20/08/2005 23:48:58 »
They might have been really dodgely made and like blown up or something or maybe Neil was pilating it and farted! You just don't know these things!

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Offline daveshorts

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Re: What is a Sonic Boom ?
« Reply #15 on: 21/08/2005 10:49:44 »
The volume and tone of the sonic boom will change depending on how far you are away from the aircraft and how fast and how big the plane is.

 The closer you are to the plane the more that the sonic boom will sound like a sharp crack (and another from the back of the plane), as you get further away the different freqencies move at different speed and the high frequencies die away before the low ones so it ends up as a low rumble if you get far enough away.

The volume will be dependent on how much energy there is in the sonic boom and how far you are from it.
 

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Re: What is a Sonic Boom ?
« Reply #15 on: 21/08/2005 10:49:44 »

 

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