NATURAL SCIENCE

Supersonic Shock Waves

When a plane or other object accelerates past the speed of sound, visible shock waves form. Here, the best images of this stunning phenomenon.

F/A-18F Super Hornet

An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the "Diamondbacks" of Strike Fighter Squadron One Zero Two (VFA-102) completes a super-sonic flyby as part of an air power demonstration for visitors aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), which is off the coast of Southern Japan.

U.S. Navy / Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jarod Hodge

Through the Barrier

May 23: A ring of water vapor forms as an F/A-18F Super Hornet piloted by Navy fliers Lt. Justin Halligan and Lt. Michael Witt breaks the sound barrier over Jones Beach in Wantagh, N.Y., during the New York Air Show.
Reuters

Extra Wings?

June 22: A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor creates a visible shock wave as it passes over the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis in the Gulf of Alaska. The visual effect is created by moisture trapped between crests in a sound wave at or near the moment a jet goes supersonic.
Petty Officer 1st Class Ronald Dejarnett, USN

Through the Hoop

May 23: The Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet passes through its own water-vapor shockwave cloud over Jones Beach in Wantagh, N.Y., during the New York Air Show. The phenomenon is created when the plane, traveling at low altitudes over water, approaches the speed of sound and the pressure created by the forward sound waves squeezes moisture in the air to form a ball of cloud over the front of the aircraft.
Reuters

Supersonic Shock Wave

July 16, 1945: The first nuclear bomb explosion at the Trinity Test Site in New Mexico, photographed from 6 miles away. The supersonic blast front creates its own visible shock wave.
Library of Congress

Supersonic Shock Wave

July 7, 1999: A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet deployed aboard USS Constellation breaks the sound barrier in the skies over the Pacific Ocean near Pusan, South Korea.
U.S. Navy

Supersonic Shock Wave

July 16, 1969: The Saturn V rocket carrying the Apollo 11 astronauts to the moon creates a visible vapor cone halfway down the cowling as it goes supersonic.
NASA

Supersonic Shock Wave

July 25, 1946: Nuclear test 'Baker' detonates underwater at Bikini Atoll in the western Pacific, creating a huge water-vapor shockwave cloud.
Department of Defense

Supersonic Shock Waves

When a plane or other object accelerates past the speed of sound, visible shock waves form. Here, the best images of this stunning phenomenon.

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