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Rarefaction is the reduction of an item's density, the opposite of compression.Like compression, which can travel in waves (sound waves, for instance), rarefaction waves also exist in nature. A common rarefaction wave is the area of low relative pressure following a shock wave (see picture).
In physics, a shock wave, or shock, is a type of propagating disturbance that moves faster than the local speed of sound in the medium. Like an ordinary wave, a shock wave carries energy and can propagate through a medium but is characterized by an abrupt, nearly discontinuous, change in pressure, temperature, and density of the medium.
Rarefaction waves expand with time (much like sea waves spread out as they reach a beach); in most cases rarefaction waves keep the same overall profile ('shape') at all times throughout the wave's movement: it is a self-similar expansion. Each part of the wave travels at the local speed of sound, in the local medium. This expansion behaviour is in contrast to the behaviour of pressure increases, which gets narrower with time, until they steepen into shock waves.
A natural example of rarefaction occurs in the layers of Earth's atmosphere. Because the atmosphere has mass, most atmospheric matter is nearer to the Earth due to the Earth's gravitation. Therefore, air at higher layers of the atmosphere is less dense, or rarefied, relative to air at lower layers. Thus rarefaction can refer either to a reduction in density over space at a single point of time, or a reduction of density over time for one particular area.
Mass is both a property of a physical body and a measure of its resistance to acceleration when a net force is applied. An object's mass also determines the strength of its gravitational attraction to other bodies.
In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of atoms, which are made up of interacting subatomic particles, and in everyday as well as scientific usage, "matter" generally includes atoms and anything made up of them, and any particles that act as if they have both rest mass and volume. However it does not include massless particles such as photons, or other energy phenomena or waves such as light or sound. Matter exists in various states. These include classical everyday phases such as solid, liquid, and gas – for example water exists as ice, liquid water, and gaseous steam – but other states are possible, including plasma, Bose–Einstein condensates, fermionic condensates, and quark–gluon plasma.
Rarefaction can be easily observed by compressing a spring and releasing it. Instead of seeing compressed loops seeming to move through the spring, spaced-out loops move through it: rarefaction waves....
A spring is an elastic object that stores mechanical energy. Springs are typically made of spring steel. There are many spring designs. In everyday use, the term often refers to coil springs.
Modern construction of guitars is an example of using rarefaction in manufacturing. By forcing the reduction of density (loss of oils and other impurities) in the cellular structure of the soundboard, a rarefied guitar top produces a tonal decompression affecting the sound of the instrument, mimicking aged wood.
Longitudinal waves are waves in which the displacement of the medium is in the same direction as, or the opposite direction to, the direction of propagation of the wave. Mechanical longitudinal waves are also called compressional or compression waves, because they produce compression and rarefaction when traveling through a medium, and pressure waves, because they produce increases and decreases in pressure.
A P-wave is one of the two main types of elastic body waves, called seismic waves in seismology. P-waves travel faster than other seismic waves and hence are the first signal from an earthquake to arrive at any affected location or at a seismograph. P-waves may be transmitted through gases, liquids, or solids.
A supersonic expansion fan, technically known as Prandtl–Meyer expansion fan, a two-dimensional simple wave, is a centered expansion process that occurs when a supersonic flow turns around a convex corner. The fan consists of an infinite number of Mach waves, diverging from a sharp corner. When a flow turns around a smooth and circular corner, these waves can be extended backwards to meet at a point.
The troposphere is the lowest layer of Earth's atmosphere, and is also where nearly all weather conditions take place. It contains approximately 75% of the atmosphere's mass and 99% of the total mass of water vapor and aerosols. The average height of the troposphere is 18 km in the tropics, 17 km in the middle latitudes, and 6 km in the polar regions in winter. The total average height of the troposphere is 13 km.
In aerodynamics, a hypersonic speed is one that greatly exceeds the speed of sound, often stated as starting at speeds of Mach 5 and above.
The speed of sound is the distance travelled per unit time by a sound wave as it propagates through an elastic medium. At 20 °C (68 °F), the speed of sound in air is about 343 meters per second, or a kilometre in 2.9 s or a mile in 4.7 s. It depends strongly on temperature, but also varies by several meters per second, depending on which gases exist in the medium through which a soundwave is propagating.
The atmosphere of Earth is the layer of gases, commonly known as air, that surrounds the planet Earth and is retained by Earth's gravity. The atmosphere of Earth protects life on Earth by creating pressure allowing for liquid water to exist on the Earth's surface, absorbing ultraviolet solar radiation, warming the surface through heat retention, and reducing temperature extremes between day and night.
Compressible flow is the branch of fluid mechanics that deals with flows having significant changes in fluid density. Gases, mostly, display such behaviour. While all flows are compressible, flows are usually treated as being incompressible when the Mach number is less than 0.3. The study of compressible flow is relevant to high-speed aircraft, jet engines, rocket motors, high-speed entry into a planetary atmosphere, gas pipelines, commercial applications such as abrasive blasting, and many other fields.
In fluid dynamics, a Mach wave is a pressure wave traveling with the speed of sound caused by a slight change of pressure added to a compressible flow. These weak waves can combine in supersonic flow to become a shock wave if sufficient Mach waves are present at any location. Such a shock wave is called a Mach stem or Mach front. Thus, it is possible to have shockless compression or expansion in a supersonic flow by having the production of Mach waves sufficiently spaced. A Mach wave is the weak limit of an oblique shock wave.
In mechanics, compression is the application of balanced inward ("pushing") forces to different points on a material or structure, that is, forces with no net sum or torque directed so as to reduce its size in one or more directions. It is contrasted with tension or traction, the application of balanced outward ("pulling") forces; and with shearing forces, directed so as to displace layers of the material parallel to each other. The compressive strength of materials and structures is an important engineering consideration.
Atmospheric physics is the application of physics to the study of the atmosphere. Atmospheric physicists attempt to model Earth's atmosphere and the atmospheres of the other planets using fluid flow equations, chemical models, radiation budget, and energy transfer processes in the atmosphere. In order to model weather systems, atmospheric physicists employ elements of scattering theory, wave propagation models, cloud physics, statistical mechanics and spatial statistics which are highly mathematical and related to physics. It has close links to meteorology and climatology and also covers the design and construction of instruments for studying the atmosphere and the interpretation of the data they provide, including remote sensing instruments. At the dawn of the space age and the introduction of sounding rockets, aeronomy became a subdiscipline concerning the upper layers of the atmosphere, where dissociation and ionization are important.
Inlet cones are a component of some supersonic aircraft and missiles. They are primarily used on ramjets, such as the D-21 Tagboard and Lockheed X-7. Some turbojet aircraft including the Su-7, MiG-21, English Electric Lightning, and SR-71 also use an inlet cone.
The light-gas gun is an apparatus for physics experiments, a highly specialized gun designed to generate very high velocities. It is usually used to study high-speed impact phenomena, such as the formation of impact craters by meteorites or the erosion of materials by micrometeoroids. Some basic materials research relies on projectile impact to create high pressure: such systems are capable of forcing liquid hydrogen into a metallic state.
Acoustic absorption refers to the process by which a material, structure, or object takes in sound energy when sound waves are encountered, as opposed to reflecting the energy. Part of the absorbed energy is transformed into heat and part is transmitted through the absorbing body. The energy transformed into heat is said to have been 'lost'.
A valveless pulsejet is the simplest known jet propulsion device. Valveless pulsejets are low in cost, light weight, powerful and easy to operate. They have all the advantages of conventional valved pulsejets, but without the reed valves that need frequent replacement - a valveless pulsejet can operate for its entire useful life with practically zero maintenance. They have been used to power model aircraft, experimental go-karts, and unmanned military aircraft such as cruise missiles and target drones.
Shock diamonds are a formation of standing wave patterns that appear in the supersonic exhaust plume of an aerospace propulsion system, such as a supersonic jet engine, rocket, ramjet, or scramjet, when it is operated in an atmosphere. The diamonds are formed from a complex flow field and are visible due to the abrupt changes in local density and pressure caused by standing shock waves. Mach diamonds are named after Ernst Mach, the physicist who first described them.
A hypersonic wind tunnel is designed to generate a hypersonic flow field in the working section, thus simulating the typical flow features of this flow regime - including compression shocks and pronounced boundary layer effects, entropy layer and viscous interaction zones and most importantly high total temperatures of the flow. The speed of these tunnels vary from Mach 5 to 15. The power requirement of a wind tunnel increases with the cross section, the flow density and is directly proportional to the third power of the test velocity. Hence installation of a continuous, closed circuit wind tunnel remains a costly affair. The first continuous Mach 7-10 wind tunnel with 1x1 m test section was planned at Kochel am See, Germany during WW II and finally put into operation as 'Tunnel A' in the late 1950s at AEDC Tullahoma, TN, USA for an installed power of 57 MW. In view of these high facility demands, also intermittently operated experimental facilities like blow-down wind tunnels are designed and installed to simulate the hypersonic flow. A hypersonic wind tunnel comprises in flow direction the main components: heater/cooler arrangements, dryer, convergent/divergent nozzle, test section, second throat and diffuser. A blow-down wind tunnel has a low vacuum reservoir at the back end, while a continuously operated, closed circuit wind tunnel has a high power compressor installation instead. Since the temperature drops with the expanding flow, the air inside the test section has the chance of becoming liquefied. For that reason, preheating is particularly critical.
Gas kinetics is a science in the branch of fluid dynamics, concerned with the study of motion of gases and its effects on physical systems. Based on the principles of fluid mechanics and thermodynamics, gas dynamics arises from the studies of gas flows in transonic and supersonic flights. To distinguish itself from other sciences in fluid dynamics, the studies in gas dynamics are often defined with gases flowing around or within physical objects at speeds comparable to or exceed the speed of sound and causing a significant change in temperature and pressure. Some examples of these studies include but are not limited to: choked flows in nozzles and valves, shock waves around jets, aerodynamic heating on atmospheric reentry vehicles and flows of gas fuel within a jet engine. At the molecular level, gas dynamics is a study of the kinetic theory of gases, often leading to the study of gas diffusion, statistical mechanics, chemical thermodynamics and non-equilibrium thermodynamics. Gas dynamics is synonymous with aerodynamics when the gas field is air and the subject of study is flight. It is highly relevant in the design of aircraft and spacecraft and their respective propulsion systems.
Vapor-compression refrigeration or vapor-compression refrigeration system (VCRS), in which the refrigerant undergoes phase changes, is one of the many refrigeration cycles and is the most widely used method for air-conditioning of buildings and automobiles. It is also used in domestic and commercial refrigerators, large-scale warehouses for chilled or frozen storage of foods and meats, refrigerated trucks and railroad cars, and a host of other commercial and industrial services. Oil refineries, petrochemical and chemical processing plants, and natural gas processing plants are among the many types of industrial plants that often utilize large vapor-compression refrigeration systems.
In supersonic aerodynamics, unstart refers to a generally violent breakdown of the supersonic airflow. The phenomenon occurs when mass flow rate changes significantly within a duct. Avoiding unstarts is a key objective in design of the engine air intakes of supersonic aircraft which cruise at speeds of M2.2+.
A vapo(u)r cone, also known as shock collar or shock egg, is a visible cloud of condensed water which can sometimes form around an object moving at high speed through moist air, for example an aircraft flying at transonic speeds. When the localized air pressure around the object drops, so does the air temperature. If the temperature drops below the saturation temperature a cloud forms.
A transient condensation cloud, also called Wilson cloud, is observable at large explosions in humid air.