shock wave
  • Wave found in solid and fluid materials and consisting of successive compressions and rarefactions of material along the line of travel of the wave. Shock waves are produced by explosions and other causes. In astronomy they are important because in stellar gas and dust clouds they can prompt star formation by triggering the gravitational collapse of material into a protostar. Mass concentrations in stellar dust and gas clouds are often observed in patterns indicative of the effects of shock waves. They are also thought to be important in the processes occurring in nova and supernova explosions and in galaxies which are the seat of unusual energetic events.
  • A large-amplitude compression wave created by an object moving through a fluid at a speed which exceeds the speed of sound for said fluid, as occurs, for example, when an airplane breaks the sound barrier. Shock waves may also be created by an explosion or other violent disturbance in a fluid, as is the case with lightning. The sound heard as result of the shock waves emanating from an object or medium is called sonic boom. Also spelled Shockwave.

Not what you were looking for?