Astrophysics (Index)About

expansion fan

(Prandtl-Meyer expansion fan)
(the "sound" of a supersonic flow flowing around a convex corner)

An expansion fan is the resulting sound within a fluid that is passing a convex corner (of some solid object) at supersonic relative-speed. The fluid passing the corner suddenly has the room to expand, which constitutes a disturbance at the corner. The relative motion between corner and fluid triggers the fan when the speed difference is sufficiently high that sound-propagation is all within fluid already passed by the disturbance. A particular type of pattern is produced in the sound propagation, a cone-shape of various air pressures, the cone expanding outward from the disturbing corner.

It is analogous to a shock wave. It propagates away from the corner, carried away by the fluid (if the fluid is moving past the object) or left behind by the object (if the object is moving through the fluid). It can be modeled as infinitely many "low pressure" waves fanning propagating from the corner, their directions fanned out, the initial wave propagation-direction angled (Mach angle) which is determined by the fluid's relative speed as it reaches the corner along with its relative speed once it has reached the corner.


(physics,wave,fluid dynamics)
Further reading:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expansion_fan
http://brennen.caltech.edu/fluidbook/basicfluiddynamics/Compressibleflow/prandtlmeyerfan.pdf
http://web.mit.edu/16.unified/www/SPRING/fluids/Spring2008/LectureNotes/f18.pdf

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