sonic boom

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Sonic boom

When an object moves through a fluid, it displaces that fluid in the form of a shock wave. The path left by a speedboat in water is an example of a shock wave. A sonic boom is a special kind of shock wave produced when an object travels though air at a speed greater than the speed of sound (1,100 ft/sec [335 m/sec] at sea level). Supersonic aircraft, such as the Concorde, produce a sonic boom when they fly faster than the speed of sound. A number of adverse environmental effects have been attributed to sonic booms from supersonic airplanes. These include the breaking of windows and the frightening of animals and people.

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sonic boom,shock wave produced by an object moving through the air at supersonic speed, i.e., faster than the speed of sound. Since sound is a mechanical disturbance that propagates through the air, there is a limit to its speed. An object such as an airplane, moving through the air, generates sound. When the speed of the object reaches or exceeds the speed of sound, the object catches up with its own noise; at higher speeds, it forces the sound ahead of itself faster than the noise would ordinarily travel. The piled-up sound takes the form of a violent shock wave called a sonic boom propagating behind the object. Sonic booms occasionally have mechanically destructive effects in addition to their role as noise pollutants.

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sonic boom Sudden noise produced by shock waves from an aircraft flying at supersonic velocity. The shock waves are formed by the build up of sound waves at the front and back of the aircraft. These waves spread out and sweep across the ground behind the aircraft, often causing a double bang. See also sound barrier

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son·ic boom • n. a loud explosive noise caused by the shock wave from an aircraft traveling faster than the speed of sound.