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# Doppler Effect

The Doppler Effect is the apparent change in a wave's frequency resulting from the relative velocity between the source of the waves and the observer. Although the Doppler Effect is generally associated with sound waves, it is applicable to any type of wave. As a rule of thumb, if the distance between the source and the observer decreases, the apparent frequency (called "f prime" or f') is higher than the actual, real frequency of the source.

Case 1: Observer moving If the observer is moving but the source is stationary, the apparent frequency change is evidenced directly and can be calculated with the formula:

f / f = v / vw

Where,

f is the apparent change in frequency, f is the original v is the velocity of the observer with respect to the

frequency,

## stationary source, vw is the speed of the wave.

To calculate the final frequency the observer records you would use the relationships: When the observer approaches a wave source, the calculation for higher frequency:

f'=f+ f

When the observer recedes from a wave source, the calculation forlower frequency:

f'=f- f

Remember that the actual frequency of the source remains unchanged and that this apparent change in frequency is due to the relative velocity between the source and the observer. Also remember that it is the frequency that is manipulated mathematically when the observer is moving either towards or away from the source. An analogy: Suppose that you are a parent watching your child play at the beach. If the child stands still in the shallow water, you note that one wave reaches your child's position each second. However, suppose that the child decides to "rush out to meet" the waves. The child will encounter the waves more frequently as he rushes out towards the deeper water.

Instead of one wave reaching him each second, he might meet two or three each second. Conversely, if the child "runs away from the waves" back into the shore, instead of one wave reaching him every second, a wave might only reach him once every 1.5 to 2 seconds. The child can change the "apparent frequency" of the oncoming waves through his motions. How much the frequency changes depend on the child's relative speed.

Case 2: Source moving When the source is moving, the wavelength is the quantity that is directly affected by the relative motion, not the frequency. Let us have a look at the formula:

/ = v / vw

The following diagram shows a source moving towards the right side of the screen at a constant velocity:

As this source moves towards the right, observers located behind the source would receive fewer waves per second so they would perceive an apparent frequency that is lower than the source's true frequency. Notice that the wavelengths are being drawn farther apart. Longer wavelengths "produce" a lower frequency. As this source moves

towards the right, observers located in front of the source would receive more waves per second so they would perceive an apparent frequency that is higher than the source's true frequency. Notice that the wavelengths are being crowded closer together. Shorter wavelengths "produce" a higher frequency.

In this formula, is the apparent change in wavelength; is the original wavelength when the source is stationary,

## respect to the stationary observer, and vw is the speed of the wave.

In this case, four steps are needed to calculate the apparent frequency. 1. Determine the original wavelength using = vw / f 2. Determine the apparent change in wavelength using = * (v / vw) 3. Determine the new apparent wavelength using '= Receding source: Wavelengths drawn apart: ' = +

Approaching source: Wavelengths crowded together: ' = 4. Determine the new apparent frequency using f ' = vw / '

ALERT! The Doppler Effect for the relative motion of a source does NOT yield the same results as for an observer moving at the same rate. You MUST choose the correct formula when solving your problem!

The Doppler Effect is observed whenever the source of waves is moving with respect to an observer. The Doppler Effect can be described as the effect produced by a moving source of waves in which there is an apparent upward shift in frequency for observers towards whom the source is approaching and an apparent downward shift in frequency for observers from whom the source is receding. It is important to note

that the effect does not result because of an actual change in the frequency of the source. Using the example above, the bug is still producing disturbances at a rate of 2 disturbances per second; it just appears to the observer whom the bug is approaching that the disturbances are being produced at a frequency greater than 2 disturbances per second. The effect is only observed because the distance between observer B and the bug is decreasing and the distance between observer A and the bug is increasing. The Doppler effect can be observed for any type of wave - water wave, sound wave, light wave, etc. We are most familiar with the Doppler Effect because of our experiences with sound waves. Perhaps you recall an instance in which a police car or emergency vehicle was traveling towards you on the highway. As the car approached with its siren blasting, the pitch of the siren sound (a measure of the siren's frequency) was high; and then suddenly after the car passed by, the pitch of the siren sound was low. That was the

Doppler Effect - an apparent shift in frequency for a sound wave produced by a moving source.

Conclusion The Doppler Effect is of intense interest to astronomers who use the information about the shift in frequency of electromagnetic waves produced by moving stars in our galaxy and beyond in order to derive information about those stars and galaxies. The belief that the universe is expanding is based in part upon observations of electromagnetic waves emitted by stars in distant galaxies. Furthermore, specific information about stars within galaxies can be determined by application of the Doppler Effect. Galaxies are clusters of stars that typically rotate about some center of mass point. Electromagnetic

radiation emitted by such stars in a distant galaxy would appear to be shifted downward in frequency (a red shift) if the star is rotating in its cluster in a direction that is away from the Earth. On the other hand, there is an upward shift in frequency (a blue shift) of such observed radiation if the star is rotating in a direction that is towards the Earth.