Lin, Shao-Chi Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of California, San Diego, California.
Gupta, Y. M. Department of Physics, Shock Dynamics Laboratory, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington.
Last reviewed:January 2020
- Normal shock wave
- Oblique shock wave
- Bomb blast
- Extraterrestrial shock waves
- Structure, thickness, and stability
- Condensed Materials
- Formation and behavior
- Condensed matter properties
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A mechanical wave of large amplitude, propagating at supersonic velocity, across which pressure or stress, density, particle velocity, temperature, and related properties change in a nearly discontinuous manner. Unlike acoustic waves, shock waves are characterized by an amplitude-dependent wave velocity. Shock waves arise from sharp and violent disturbances generated from a lightning stroke, bomb blast, or other form of intense explosion, and from various types of supersonic flow over stationary objects. Extraterrestrial examples include supernovae expanding against neighboring intergalactic gas clouds and solar wind flowing over magnetized planets and satellites. This article discusses shock waves in gases and in condensed materials.
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