Dec 11, 2012

Picture of the Day: The Vapor Cone




vapor cone-of-condensation-f16-approaching mach 1 speed of sound


An F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot with the Viper East Demonstration Team from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., creates a ‘cone’ of condensation on Aug. 21, 2010, as he nears Mach 1 during a flyby at an open house at Volk Field Air National Guard Base.

The ‘cone’ of condensation is known as a vapor cone, or shock collar or shock egg. The phenomenon is frequently encountered at high-subsonic Mach numbers, but can also occur in lower-speed conditions, such as high-g maneuvers by fighter aircraft. The cloud is caused by extremely low pressure in an ‘expansion region’ of the airflow around the aircraft, usually in relatively humid atmospheric conditions. A common misconception is that this effect is the aircraft ‘breaking the sound barrier’. [Source: Wikipedia]

The Sifter has previously done a feature post on airplanes photographed at supersonic speed. If you enjoyed this photo be sure to check out 40 Pictures of Airplanes Breaking the Sound Barrier



picture of the day button Picture of the Day: The Vapor Cone