Mach 3 Shockwave Model

Here is more evidence that science and art are not mutually exclusive. It’s a supercomputer model of the shockwave formed when an aircraft hits Mach 3 which is three times the speed of sound. Aerodynamics is still one of the most complicated things that we try to model. Air is a compressible fluid with many codependent variables. Its temperature and pressure can affect that amount of water vapor it can hold which in turn effect its density. Combinations of these variables can actually change how fast sound can travel through air. Unlike the speed of light, the speed of sound (Mach number) is something that has to be calculated based on air conditions. All of these things get even more complicated when we study how air moves. That’s what makes this model of a Mach 3 shockwave made by Swiss scientists using the latest in computer technology so remarkable. The model has two layers: density changes followed by the vorticity magnitude. I’m making an educated guess here, but I think vorticity magnitude is how chaotic the turbulence in the shockwave is. The two models are then broken down in more detail and overlaid on each other. Most of the science is way over my head, but I think the remarkable thing to pay attention to is the formation of the vortex ring.

Source: Physics Central APS on YouTube