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What is Sonic Boom?

sonic boom (a loud sound) was heard in Bengaluru which emanated from an Indian Air Force (IAF) test flight involving a supersonic profile.

Why in News

Recently, sonic boom (a loud sound) was heard in Bengaluru which emanated from an Indian Air Force (IAF) test flight involving a supersonic profile.

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About :

  • A sonic boom is a thunderous noise caused by an object, like an aircraft, moving faster than the speed of sound.
  • How is it formed?
  • As the object zooms through the sky, the air molecules around it are pushed aside with tremendous forcegenerating shock waves along its flight path. 
  • The release of pressure, following the shock waves’ buildup, is heard as the sonic boom.
  • It create huge amounts of sound energy.
  • The intensity of the sonic boom is determined not only by the distance between the craft and the ground but also by the size and shape of the aircraft, the types of maneuvers that it makes, and the atmospheric pressure, temperature, and winds.
  • Generally, a larger aircraft will cause stronger shock waves, and therefore, a louder sonic boom.
  • If the aircraft is especially long, double sonic booms might be detected, one emanating from the leading edge of the plane and one from the trailing edge.
  • It can shatter glass, but there is generally little risk for people on the ground.

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  • The shock wave forms a cone of pressurized or built-up air molecules, which move outward and rearward in all directions and extend all the way to the ground.
  • As the pressure cone spreads across the landscape along the flight path, it creates a continu­ous sonic boom along the full width of the cone’s base.
  • The sharp release of pressure, after the buildup by the shock wave, is heard as the sonic boom.
  • The change in air pressure associated with a sonic boom is only a few pounds per square foot, about the same pressure change experienced riding an elevator down two or three floors.
  • It is the rate of change, the sudden changing of the pressure, which makes the sonic boom audible.

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General Factors Associated With it:

  • There are several factors that can influence sonic booms like weight, size, and shape of the aircraft or vehicle, plus its altitude, attitude, and flight path, and weather or atmospheric conditions.
  • The direction of travel and the strength of shock waves are influenced by wind, speed, and direction, as well as by air temperature and pressure.

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