Shockwave Shadow and Refraction Spikes

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icLNtF_ehwo


When I sat in the exit row of a plane from Sacramento to Denver. I saw what looked like a glitch in the matrix. A weird spike in the fabric of reality! Turns out it was refraction, the high-pressure shockwave over the wing was acting as a lens and distorting a bit of the image, as well as projecting sunlight in a streak on the wing.

They got quite interesting at times, sometimes with multiple refraction spikes
Metabunk 2019-10-21 15-40-13.jpg

(The second leg was from Denver to New York)
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
The refraction is really interesting. It looks like the image is being raised up into a spike.
Metabunk 2019-10-21 17-49-09.jpg
But it's not, it's mostly just being shifted forward (towards the front of the plane). This means the light is bend towards the back of the plane, which makes sense as light is bent towards high pressure (high density)

I'm curious about what role this shock wave has in the formation of aerodynamic contrails.

Also there's this thread:
https://www.metabunk.org/curious-ef...ne-wing-i-suspect-reflections-from-ice.t8052/

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4JHVEig2Tw
 
Last edited:

Mechanik

Active Member
Thanks, Mick. Fascinating. More than once, I’ve thought I saw odd, momentary glitches along the edges of the winglets, but my vision is so poor that I dismissed them as artifacts of my own perception. I’m going to have to look more closely next time.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Some details of my flights, on October 16, 2019

I first noticed it at 9:44 AM PDT (16:44 UTC) on flight UA2285 (an Airbus A319) from Sacramento to Denver. The last video on that leg was taken at 9:58. This was at 37,000 and 39,000 feet, and 580 mph (ground speed). I remember seeing on the seat-back screen that we had a quite significant tailwind (maybe 100+ mph). I was sat on the left, so looking north, with the sun behind me.

Next flight was United 749, a Boeing 757-200, from Denver to Newark, NJ. I was sat on the other side this time, looking South. Images at 3:57 MDT. 37,000 feet, 550 mph ground speed.

I'd mistakenly thought that both planes were 757s, but it was just the second one. The A319 is a short-bodied plane. but has the same basic cross-section as a 757 (and similar planes like the A320, A321, an B737)
 

Attachments

Leifer

Senior Member.
So....if this exhibits that parts of the plane that are both flying at subsonic and supersonic (transonic)....at the same time.....then.....
Is part of the plane (aircraft) flying faster than the other parts ?
 
Last edited:

Spectrar Ghost

Senior Member.
I mean, obviously not, because it’s not falling apart. Remember that one of the sources of lift on aircraft is the Bernoulli effect, where faster moving air has lower air pressure. To employ this, air moving over the top of an airfoil has further to travel than air moving over the bottom. Even if this is only a 10% difference, there exists a flight regime where the air on top of the wing is moving supersonically, and that under moves subsonically.

edit:
894E25D2-FE4A-4092-843C-4F9551994FD4.png
More specifically, this type of recompression shock appears to be what is being viewed.
 
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TWCobra

Senior Member.
Critical Mach number is the mach number where some part of the airflow over an aircraft is moving at Mach 1 or greater. It happens more than you think, particularly when an aircraft is flying a bit faster than normal, usually trying to catch up on schedule. (were any of these flights running late, Mick?)
 

some_guy

New Member
One of my profs in undergrad told us about this, I've never been lucky enough to see it myself though. Great pics & video.
 

Silent and Hushed

New Member
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icLNtF_ehwo


When I sat in the exit row of a plane from Sacramento to Denver. I saw what looked like a glitch in the matrix. A weird spike in the fabric of reality! Turns out it was refraction, the high-pressure shockwave over the wing was acting as a lens and distorting a bit of the image, as well as projecting sunlight in a streak on the wing.

They got quite interesting at times, sometimes with multiple refraction spikes
View attachment 38720

(The second leg was from Denver to New York)
Didn't notice this phenomenon. Thanks!
 
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