A Sonic Boom is Caused by _____

Sound created past a object going as fast as the speed of sound

The audio source is travelling at one.4 times the speed of sound (Mach 1.4). Since the source is moving faster than the sound waves it creates, information technology leads the advancing wavefront.

A sonic boom produced by an aircraft moving at M=2.92, calculated from the cone angle of 20 degrees. Observers hear zero until the stupor wave, on the edges of the cone, crosses their location.

NASA data showing N-moving ridge signature.[1]

Conical shockwave with its hyperbola-shaped ground contact zone in yellow

sonic smash
is a sound associated with daze waves created when an object travels through the air faster than the speed of sound. Sonic booms generate enormous amounts of audio free energy, sounding similar to an explosion or a thunderclap to the human ear. A decibel is the primary unit measurement of sound. “A thunderclap is incredibly loud, producing levels between 100 and 120 dBA (decibels A)- the equivalent of standing almost a jet during take-off.” (Skilling & WGN-Boob tube, 2021)

The crack of a supersonic bullet passing overhead or the crack of a bullwhip are examples of a sonic nail in miniature.[two]

Sonic booms due to large supersonic shipping can be particularly loud and startling, tend to awaken people, and may crusade small-scale harm to some structures. This led to prohibition of routine supersonic flying overland. Although they cannot exist completely prevented, enquiry suggests that with careful shaping of the vehicle, the nuisance due to the sonic booms may be reduced to the point that overland supersonic flying may become a feasible option.[3]

A sonic boom doesn’t occur the moment an object crosses the sound barrier and neither is it heard in all directions emanating from the supersonic object. Rather the smash is a continuous effect that occurs while the object is travelling at supersonic speeds. Just information technology affects only observers that are positioned at a betoken that intersects a region in the shape of a geometrical cone backside the object. Every bit the object moves, this conical region likewise moves behind information technology and when the cone passes over the observer, they volition briefly experience the “boom”.



When an shipping passes through the air, it creates a serial of pressure waves in front of the shipping and backside it, similar to the bow and stern waves created by a boat. These waves travel at the speed of audio and, as the speed of the object increases, the waves are forced together, or compressed, because they cannot get out of each other’south way speedily enough. Somewhen they merge into a single shock wave, which travels at the speed of audio, a critical speed known as
Mach 1, and is approximately one,235 km/h (767 mph) at bounding main level and twenty °C (68 °F).

In smooth flight, the shock wave starts at the olfactory organ of the aircraft and ends at the tail. Considering the unlike radial directions around the aircraft’s direction of travel are equivalent (given the “polish flying” condition), the shock moving ridge forms a Mach cone, similar to a vapour cone, with the aircraft at its tip. The half-angle


{\displaystyle \alpha }

between the direction of flight and the shock wave is given by:








{\displaystyle \sin(\alpha )={\frac {v_{\text{sound}}}{v_{\text{object}}}}}







{\displaystyle {\frac {v_{\text{audio}}}{v_{\text{object}}}}}

is the inverse





{\displaystyle {\Big (}{\frac {1}{Ma}}{\Large )}}

of the plane’s Mach number (






{\displaystyle Ma={\frac {v_{\text{object}}}{v_{\text{audio}}}}}

). Thus the faster the airplane travels, the finer and more pointed the cone is.

There is a rising in pressure at the nose, decreasing steadily to a negative pressure level at the tail, followed by a sudden return to normal pressure level after the object passes. This “overpressure profile” is known as an N-wave because of its shape. The “boom” is experienced when there is a sudden modify in force per unit area; therefore, an North-wave causes ii booms – one when the initial force per unit area-rise reaches an observer, and some other when the pressure level returns to normal. This leads to a distinctive “double boom” from a supersonic aircraft. When the aircraft is maneuvering, the force per unit area distribution changes into dissimilar forms, with a feature U-wave shape.

Since the boom is being generated continually as long every bit the shipping is supersonic, it fills out a narrow path on the ground following the aircraft’s flight path, a chip like an unrolling cherry-red carpet, and hence known as the
nail carpet. Its width depends on the altitude of the aircraft. The altitude from the point on the footing where the nail is heard to the aircraft depends on its distance and the angle


{\displaystyle \blastoff }


For today’s supersonic aircraft in normal operating conditions, the peak overpressure varies from less than l to 500 Pa (ane to ten psf (pound per square foot)) for an Due north-wave smash. Peak overpressures for U-waves are amplified two to five times the North-wave, just this amplified overpressure impacts only a very pocket-sized surface area when compared to the surface area exposed to the residual of the sonic boom. The strongest sonic blast always recorded was 7,000 Pa (144 psf) and it did not cause injury to the researchers who were exposed to it. The boom was produced past an F-four flight but above the speed of sound at an altitude of 100 feet (30 m).[5]
In recent tests, the maximum nail measured during more realistic flight conditions was 1,010 Pa (21 psf). There is a probability that some damage — shattered glass, for example — will result from a sonic boom. Buildings in skilful condition should suffer no damage past pressures of 530 Pa (eleven psf) or less. And, typically, community exposure to sonic boom is below 100 Pa (2 psf). Basis move resulting from sonic boom is rare and is well below structural damage thresholds accustomed by the U.Due south. Agency of Mines and other agencies.[6]

The power, or volume, of the shock moving ridge depends on the quantity of air that is being accelerated, and thus the size and shape of the shipping. As the aircraft increases speed the shock cone gets
effectually the craft and becomes weaker to the point that at very loftier speeds and altitudes no blast is heard. The “length” of the boom from front to dorsum depends on the length of the aircraft to a power of three/2. Longer aircraft therefore “spread out” their booms more than smaller ones, which leads to a less powerful smash.[7]

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

The later shock waves are somewhat faster than the first one, travel faster and add to the master shockwave at some altitude away from the aircraft to create a much more defined Northward-wave shape. This maximizes both the magnitude and the “rise fourth dimension” of the shock which makes the blast seem louder. On most shipping designs the feature altitude is well-nigh forty,000 feet (12,000 yard), pregnant that beneath this altitude the sonic boom will be “softer”. However, the drag at this altitude or below makes supersonic travel peculiarly inefficient, which poses a serious problem.

A model of a supersonic aircraft fabricated by Virgin Galactic hit Mach 3.

Supersonic shipping


Supersonic aircraft are whatsoever aircraft that tin achieve flight faster than Mach one, which is supersonic. “Supersonic includes speeds up to five times Mach than the speed of sound, or Mach v.” (Dunbar, 2015) The top mileage per hour for a Supersonic Aircraft ordinarily ranges anywhere from 700 to 1,500 miles per hour (1,100 to 2,400 km/h). Typically, most aircraft exercise not exceed 1,500 mph (2,414 km/h). There are many variations of supersonic shipping. Some models of a supersonic aircraft make use of better engineered aerodynamics that allow a few sacrifices in the aerodynamics of the model for thruster power. Other models use the efficiency and power of the thruster to let a less aerodynamic model to achieve greater speeds. Typical model institute in Usa armed forces employ ranges from an average of $13 million to $35 million U.Southward dollars.

Measurement and examples


The pressure from sonic booms caused by aircraft is frequently a few pounds per square foot. A vehicle flying at greater distance volition generate lower pressures on the ground, because the shock wave reduces in intensity as it spreads out away from the vehicle, simply the sonic booms are less afflicted by vehicle speed.

Aircraft Speed Altitude Pressure (lbf/fttwo) Pressure (Pa)
SR-71 Blackbird Mach 3+ 80,000 feet (24,000 m) 0.9 43
Concorde (SST) Mach 2 52,000 feet (sixteen,000 m) 1.94 93
F-104 Starfighter Mach 1.93 48,000 feet (15,000 grand) 0.8 38
Space Shuttle Mach i.five sixty,000 feet (18,000 m) 1.25 threescore



New inquiry is being performed at NASA’s Glenn Research Heart that could aid alleviate the sonic boom produced by supersonic aircraft. Testing was completed in 2010 of a Large-Scale Low-Nail supersonic inlet model with micro-array menses command. A NASA aerospace engineer is pictured here in a air current tunnel with the Big-Scale Depression-Boom supersonic inlet model.

In the late 1950s when supersonic transport (SST) designs were existence actively pursued, it was thought that although the boom would be very large, the problems could be avoided by flying higher. This supposition was proven imitation when the North American XB-70
showtime flew, and information technology was found that the blast was a problem even at seventy,000 feet (21,000 g). It was during these tests that the N-wave was first characterized.

Richard Seebass and his colleague Albert George at Cornell University studied the problem extensively and eventually divers a “figure of merit” (FM) to characterize the sonic boom levels of different aircraft. FM is a function of the shipping weight and the shipping length. The lower this value, the less boom the aircraft generates, with figures of about one or lower being considered adequate. Using this calculation, they found FMs of about one.four for Concorde and i.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 less useful (flying supersonically only over h2o for instance). Small airplane designs like business jets are favoured and tend to produce minimal to no aural booms.[vii]

Seebass and George as well worked on the problem from a different angle, trying to spread out the N-moving ridge laterally and temporally (longitudinally), by producing a strong and downwards-focused (SR-71 Blackbird, Boeing X-43) daze at a sharp, only wide bending nose cone, which will travel at slightly supersonic speed (bow stupor), and using a swept dorsum flight wing or an oblique flying wing to smooth out this shock forth the management of flight (the tail of the shock travels at sonic speed). To suit this principle to existing planes, which generate a daze at their nose cone and an even stronger i at their fly leading edge, the fuselage below the fly is shaped according to the area dominion. Ideally this would enhance the feature distance from 40,000 anxiety (12,000 thousand) to sixty,000 feet (from 12,000 m to 18,000 1000), which is where nigh SST shipping were expected to wing.[7]

NASA F-5E modified for DARPA sonic boom tests

This remained untested for decades, until DARPA started the Tranquility Supersonic Platform project and funded the Shaped Sonic Blast Demonstration (SSBD) aircraft to test it. SSBD used an F-5 Liberty 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 olfactory organ all the way back to the inlets on the underside of the aircraft. The SSBD was tested over a two-twelvemonth catamenia culminating in 21 flights and was an extensive report on sonic smash characteristics. Later measuring the 1,300 recordings, some taken inside the shock wave by a hunt plane, the SSBD demonstrated a reduction in boom by nigh one-third. Although one-third is not a huge reduction, it could have reduced Concorde’s boom to an acceptable level below FM = one.

Every bit a follow-on to SSBD, in 2006 a NASA-Gulfstream Aerospace squad tested the Quiet Spike on NASA-Dryden’s F-15B aircraft 836. The Quiet Fasten is a telescoping blast fitted to the nose of an shipping specifically designed to weaken the strength of the shock waves forming on the nose of the shipping at supersonic speeds. Over l test flights were performed. Several flights included probing of the shockwaves past a 2d F-15B, NASA’due south Intelligent Flight Command Arrangement testbed, aircraft 837.

In that location are theoretical designs that practice not appear to create sonic booms at all, such as the Busemann biplane. All the same, creating a shockwave is inescapable if they generate aerodynamic lift.[vii]

NASA and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. are working together to build an experimental aircraft called the Low Boom Flying Demonstrator (LBFD), which volition reduce the sonic blast synonymous with high-speed flying to the sound of a car door closing. The agency has awarded a $247.5 million contract to construct a working version of the sleek, single-pilot plane by summertime 2021 and should begin testing over the following years to determine whether the design could eventually be adapted to commercial aircraft.[ix]

Perception, racket and other concerns


A point source emitting spherical fronts while increasing its velocity linearly with fourth dimension. For curt times the Doppler result is visible. When
five =c, the sonic blast is visible. When
5 >c, the Mach cone is visible.

The sound of a sonic smash depends largely on the distance between the observer and the aircraft shape producing the sonic nail. A sonic boom is usually heard every bit a deep double “blast” as the aircraft is usually some altitude away. The sound is much similar that of mortar bombs, commonly used in firework displays. It is a mutual misconception that only 1 boom is generated during the subsonic to supersonic transition; rather, the boom is continuous along the boom carpet for the entire supersonic flying. As a quondam Concorde pilot puts it, “You don’t actually hear anything on lath. All we encounter is the pressure wave moving downward the aeroplane – it gives an indication on the instruments. And that’southward what we see around Mach 1. Simply we don’t hear the sonic boom or annihilation like that. That’s rather similar the wake of a ship – information technology’s behind the states.”[10]

In 1964, NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration began the Oklahoma City sonic blast tests, which acquired eight sonic booms per day over a menses of 6 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.

Sonic booms were besides a nuisance in North Cornwall and North Devon in the UK every bit these areas were underneath the flight path of Concorde. Windows would rattle and in some cases the “torching” (pointing underneath roof slates) would be dislodged with the vibration.

There has been recent work in this area, notably under DARPA’southward Quiet Supersonic Platform studies. Research by acoustics experts under this programme began looking more closely at the composition of sonic booms, including the frequency content. Several characteristics of the traditional sonic nail “N” wave tin can influence how loud and irritating it can be perceived by listeners on the ground. Fifty-fifty strong North-waves such as those generated by Concorde or war machine aircraft can be far less objectionable if the ascension fourth dimension of the over-pressure is sufficiently long. A new metric has emerged, known equally
loudness, measured in PLdB. This takes into account the frequency content, ascension time, etc. A well-known example is the snapping of one’s fingers in which the “perceived” sound is nil more than than an badgerer.

The energy range of sonic blast is concentrated in the 0.1–100 hertz frequency range that is considerably below that of subsonic shipping, gunfire and nigh industrial racket. Duration of sonic smash is cursory; less than a second, 100 milliseconds (0.i 2d) for most fighter-sized aircraft and 500 milliseconds for the infinite shuttle or Concorde jetliner. The intensity and width of a sonic boom path depends on the physical characteristics of the aircraft and how it is operated. In general, the greater an aircraft’due south distance, the lower the over-force per unit area on the ground. Greater altitude likewise increases the nail’s lateral spread, exposing a wider area to the boom. Over-pressures in the sonic blast impact surface area, however, will not be uniform. Boom intensity is greatest directly under the flight path, progressively weakening with greater horizontal distance abroad from the shipping flight track. Ground width of the boom exposure area is approximately 1 statute mile (1.6 km) for each 1,000 anxiety (300 m) of distance (the width is about five times the altitude); that is, an aircraft flying supersonic at thirty,000 anxiety (9,100 thousand) will create a lateral boom spread of virtually xxx miles (48 km). For steady supersonic flight, the boom is described every bit a rug smash since information technology moves with the aircraft as it maintains supersonic speed and altitude. Some maneuvers, diving, acceleration or turning, can cause focusing of the boom. Other maneuvers, such equally deceleration and climbing, can reduce the strength of the shock. In some instances weather conditions can distort sonic booms.[6]

Depending on the aircraft’due south altitude, sonic booms reach the ground 2 to lx seconds after flyover. However, not all booms are heard at ground level. The speed of sound at any distance is a role of air temperature. A decrease or increase in temperature results in a corresponding subtract or increase in sound speed. Under standard atmospheric weather condition, air temperature decreases with increased altitude. For instance, when bounding main-level temperature is 59 degrees Fahrenheit (xv °C), the temperature at 30,000 feet (9,100 thou) drops to minus 49 degrees Fahrenheit (−45 °C). This temperature gradient helps bend the audio waves upward. Therefore, for a boom to reach the ground, the shipping speed relative to the footing must exist greater than the speed of sound at the ground. For example, the speed of sound at xxx,000 feet (9,100 thou) is about 670 miles per hour (1,080 km/h), simply an aircraft must travel at least 750 miles per hr (1,210 km/h) (Mach i.12) for a boom to exist heard on the footing.[6]

The composition of the atmosphere is also a factor. Temperature variations, humidity, atmospheric pollution, and winds tin all accept an effect on how a sonic boom is perceived on the ground. Fifty-fifty the footing itself can influence the sound of a sonic boom. Difficult surfaces such equally concrete, pavement, and large buildings can cause reflections which may amplify the sound of a sonic boom. Similarly, grassy fields and profuse leafage can help attenuate the strength of the over-pressure of a sonic boom.

Currently there are no industry-accepted standards for the acceptability of a sonic boom. However, piece of work is underway to create metrics that will assist in understanding how humans respond to the noise generated past sonic booms.
Until such metrics tin be established, either through further written report or supersonic overflight testing, it is hundred-to-one that legislation volition exist enacted to remove the current prohibition on supersonic overflight in identify in several countries, including the United States.



The keen sound a bullwhip makes when properly wielded is, in fact, a small-scale sonic blast. The end of the whip, known as the “cracker”, moves faster than the speed of sound, thus creating a sonic boom.[two]

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 momentum is transferred down the length of the tapering whip, the declining mass being made upward for with increasing speed. Goriely and McMillen showed that the concrete caption is complex, involving the way that a loop travels down a tapered filament under tension.[12]

Run across also


  • Cherenkov radiation
  • Hypersonic
  • Supershear earthquake
  • Footing vibration nail



  1. ^

    Haering, Edward A., Jr.; Smolka, James Westward.; Murray, James E.; Plotkin, Kenneth J. (one Jan 2005). “Flying Sit-in Of Low Overpressure N-Moving ridge Sonic Booms And Evanescent Waves”.
    AIP Briefing Proceedings.
    838: 647–650. Bibcode:2006AIPC..838..647H. doi:ten.1063/1.2210436. hdl:2060/20050192479. Archived from the original on thirteen February 2015.

  2. ^



    May, Mike (September 2002). “Crackin’ Adept Mathematics”.
    American Scientist.
    (5): 415–416. JSTOR 27857718.

  3. ^

    “Back with a smash? Supersonic planes get ready for a quieter, greener comeback”.
    Horizon (online magazine)
    . Retrieved
    half dozen May

  4. ^

    “Fixing the Sound Barrier: Three Generations of U.Due south. Enquiry into Sonic Boom Reduction and what information technology ways to the time to come”
    Federal Aviation Administration. 21 April 2010. Retrieved
    5 May

  5. ^

    Analyzing Sonic Blast Footprints of Armed services Jets, Andy S. Rogers, A.O.T, Inc.
  6. ^




    USAF Fact Sheet 96-03, Armstrong Laboratory, 1996
  7. ^





    Seebass, Richard (1998). “Sonic Boom Minimization”.
    Fluid Dynamics Research on Supersonic Aircraft
    (PDF). Enquiry and Applied science Organisation of NATO.

  8. ^

    NASA Armstrong Flying Enquiry Center Fact Sheet: Sonic Booms

  9. ^

    “NASA Awards Contract to Build Quieter Supersonic Aircraft” (Press release). NASA. 3 Apr 2018. Retrieved
    5 April

  10. ^

    BBC News interview with sometime Concorde Pilot (2003).

  11. ^

    Loubeau, Alexandra; Naka, Yusuke; Cook, Brian G.; Sparrow, Victor W.; Morgenstern, John 1000. (28 October 2015). “A new evaluation of dissonance metrics for sonic booms using existing data”.
    AIP Conference Proceedings.
    (1): 090015. Bibcode:2015AIPC.1685i0015L. doi:10.1063/ane.4934481. ISSN 0094-243X.

  12. ^

    Alain Goriely and Tyler McMillen (2002). “Shape of a Corking Whip”
    Physical Review Messages.
    (12): 244301. Bibcode:2002PhRvL..88x4301G. doi:10.1103/physrevlett.88.244301. PMID 12059302.


  • Skilling, T., & WGN-Television receiver, primary meteorologist at. (2021, August 20). Dear Tom, are thunder decibel levels e’er recorded?… Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February half dozen, 2022, from https://world wide web.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2001-09-20-0109200272-story.html (Sonic Boom decibel data)
  • Dunbar, B. (2015, May 27). What is Supersonic Flying? NASA. Retrieved February 6, 2022, from https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/5-eight/features/nasa-knows/what-is-supersonic-flying-58.html#:~:text=Flying%20that%20is%20faster%20than,of%20sound%2C%20or%20Mach%205.
  • G., V. (2004, June 17). Multilevel optimization of a supersonic aircraft. French republic; ELSEVIER.
  • Play a joke on, C. (2021, June 4). United plans supersonic passenger flights by 2029. BBC News. Retrieved February 8, 2022, from https://world wide web.bbc.com/news/technology-57361193
  • Cooper, J. E. (2001). Aeroelastic response. Encyclopedia of Vibration, 87–97. https://doi.org/10.1006/rwvb.2001.0125


External links


  • Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine:
    “Audio Recording of SR-71 Blackbird Sonic Booms – YouTube”.
    . Retrieved
    12 February

  • Boston World profile of Spike Aerospace planned S-521 supersonic jet

  1. ^

    Banse, Tom. “Supersonic Jets Could Return To Inland Northwest Skies”.
    OPB. OPB. Retrieved
    viii February

  2. ^

    F.S., Billig (Baronial 1993). “Research on Supersonic Combustion”.
    Journal of Propulsion and Power
    (Volume nine ed.). Johns Hopkins University: John Hopkin University.
    (iv): 4. doi:10.2514/3.23652. Retrieved
    half dozen February

A Sonic Boom is Caused by _____

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonic_boom

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