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Mach Number

Mach number refers to the speed of an object moving through the air, or any other fluid substance, separated by the speed of sound as it is in that substance for its particular physical conditions, including those of temperature and pressure. This is used to represent the speed of an object when it is traveling near or above the speed of sound.

Mechanism and practicality

M = V / a

Here M is the Mach number, V, is the relative velocity of the source to the medium, and a, is the speed of sound in the medium.

This is named after Ernst Mach, Australian philosopher and physicist and proposed by aeronautical engineer Jakob Ackeret. This is due to the fact that Mach number is viewed as a dimensionless quantity rather than a unit of measure, with mach, the number after the unit; the second number is Mach2 instead of 2 Mach. This is likely evocative of the early modern ocean sounding unit mark which was also unit-first, and may have influenced the use of the term Mach. In the decade proceeding faster than sound of human flight, aeronautical engineers referred to the speed of sound as Mach’s number, and never as Mach 1.

The general concept of Mach number

This Mach number is generally used both with objects travelling at high speed in a fluid, and with high-speed fluid flows inside channels like nozzles, diffusers or wind tunnels. It is defined as a ratio of two speeds, it is a dimensionless number. In most of the stable sea conditions, the speed of sound is 340 m/s in the earth’s atmosphere. And the speed represented by Mach is not steady. For instance, it depends largely on temperature and atmospheric composition and mainly dependent of pressure. In the stratosphere, where the temperature re constant, it does not vary with attitude in spite of the air pressure transforms remarkably with the altitude.

And because of the speed of sound raises as the temperature raises, the real speed of an object traveling at Mach 1 will depend on the fluid temperature around it. Mach number is helpful since the fluid behaves in a related way at the same Mach number. Therefore an aircraft traveling at Mach 1 at 20°C or 68°F will experience shock waves in much the same manner as when it is traveling at Mach 1 at 11,000 m at 50°C, though it is traveling at only 86% of its speed higher temperature such as 20°C.

Questions:

• What is Mach number?
• Where Mach number is widely used?
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