What is Sonic Boom?

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What is Sonic Boom? Blog Image


A sonic boom rattled US's Washington and Virginia recently after two F-16 fighter jets chased an “unresponsive aircraft” through the sky.

About Sonic Boom:

  • A sonic boom is a thunderous noise caused by an object, like an aircraft, moving faster than the speed of sound.
  • How is it formed?
    • As the object zooms through the sky, the air molecules around it are pushed aside with tremendous force, generating shock waves along its flight path. 
    • The release of pressure, following the shock waves’ buildup, is heard as the sonic boom.
    • Sonic booms create huge amounts of sound energy.
  • The intensity of the sonic boom is determined not only by the distance between the craft and the ground but also by the size and shape of the aircraft, the types of maneuvers that it makes, and the atmospheric pressure, temperature, and winds.
  • Generally, a larger aircraft will cause stronger shock waves, and therefore, a louder sonic boom.
  • If the aircraft is especially long, double sonic booms might be detected, one emanating from the leading edge of the plane and one from the trailing edge.
  • Sonic booms can shatter glass, but there is generally little risk for people on the ground.


Q1) What is a Shock Wave?

A shock wave is an area of very high pressure moving through the air, earth, or water. It is caused by an explosion or an earthquake, or by an object travelling faster than sound.

Source: Watch: Dog Reacts To Thundering Sonic Boom As US Fighter Planes Fly Over House