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# Mach wave

In fluid dynamics, a Mach wave is a pressure wave traveling with the speed of
sound caused by a slight change of pressure added to a compressible flow. These
weak waves can combine in supersonic flow to become a shock wave if sufficient
Mach waves are present at any location. Such a shock wave is called a Mach stem
or Mach front. Thus, it is possible to have shockless compression or expansion in a
supersonic flow by having the production of Mach waves sufficiently spaced (cf.
isentropic compression in supersonic flows). A Mach wave is the weak limit of an
oblique shock wave (a normal shock is the other limit).

## Contents Schlieren photograph of an attached

shock on a sharp-nosed supersonic
Mach Angle
body. The Mach angle is acute,
References 1. The angle of the Mach wave (~59
Mach 1.17.

Mach Angle
A Mach wave propagates across the flow at the Mach angle μ, which is the angle formed between the Mach wave wavefront and a
[1] It is given by
vector that points opposite to the vector of motion.

## where M is the Mach number.

Mach waves can be used in schlieren or shadowgraph observations to determine the local Mach number of the flow. Early
observations by Ernst Mach used grooves in the wall of a duct to produce Mach waves in a duct, which were then photographed by
the schlieren method, to obtain data about the flow in nozzles and ducts. Mach angles may also occasionally be visualized out of their
condensation in air, for example vapor cones around aircraft duringtransonic flight.

Gas dynamics
Prandtl-Meyer expansion fan
Schlieren photography
Shock wave

References
1. Mach angle at NASA (http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/airplane/machang.html)
Supersonic wind tunnel test demonstration (Mach 2.5) with flat plate and wedge creating an oblique shock along with
numerous Mach waves(Video)

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