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Engineering LibreTexts

11.3.5: The Dimensional Effect of the Speed of Sound

What is the significance of the speed of sound? This speed of sound determines what regime the flow will be. In Chapter 9 that Mach number was described as important parameter. It will be shown later in this Chapter that when Mach number is around 0.25-0.3 a significant change occur in the situation of flow. To demonstrate this point, consider a two dimensional situation where a particle is moving from the left to the right. A particle movement creates a pressure change which travels toward outside in equal speed relative to the particle. Figure 11.3 depicts an object with three different relative velocities. Figure 11.3(a) demonstrates that the whole surroundings is influenced by the object (depicted by red color). While Figure 11.3 (b) that there small zone a head object that is "aware'' if the object arriving. In Figure 11.3 (c) the zone that aware of the object is practically zero.

Object travels at 0.005 of the speed of soundObject travels at 0.05 of the speed of sound

Object travels at 0.15 of the speed of sound

Figure 11.3 Moving object at three relative velocities. The gray point in the first circle is the initial point the object. The finial point is marked by red circled with gray filled. Notice that the circle line thickness is increase with the time i.e the more green wider circle line thickness. The transition from the blue fresher lines to the green older lines is properly marked.

In fact, when the object velocity is about or larger than the speed of sound then the object arrive to location where the fluid does not aware or informed about the object. The reason that in gas the compressibility plays significant role is because the ratio of the object or fluid velocity compared to speed of sound. In gases the speed of sound is smaller as compare to liquid and decently to solid. Hence, gases are media where compressibility effect must be considered in relationship compressibility. approaching to one.


  • Dr. Genick Bar-Meir. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or later or Potto license.