A Caltech Library Service

The focusing of weak shock waves

Sturtevant, B. and Kulkarny, V. A. (1976) The focusing of weak shock waves. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 73 (4). pp. 651-671. ISSN 0022-1120. doi:10.1017/S0022112076001559.

PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


This paper reports an experimental investigation, using shadowgraphs and pressure measurements, of the detailed behaviour of converging weak shock waves near three different kinds of focus. Shocks are brought to a focus by reflecting initially plane fronts from concave end walls in a large shock tube. The reflectors are shaped to generate perfect foci, arêtes and caustics. It is found that, near the focus of a shock discontinuity, a complex wave field develops, which always has the same basic character, and which is always essentially nonlinear. A diffracted wave field forms behind the non-uniform converging shock; its compressive portions steepen to form diffraction shocks, while diffracted expansion waves overtake and weaken the diffraction shocks. The diffraction shocks participate in a Mach reflexion process near the focus, whose development is determined by competition between the convergence of the sides of the focusing front and acceleration of its central portion. In fact, depending on the aperture of the convergence and the strength of the initial wave, the three-shock intersections of the Mach reflexions either cross on a surface of symmetry or remain uncrossed. In the former case, which is observed if the shock wave is relatively weak, the wavefronts emerge from focus crossed and folded, in accordance with the predictions of geometrical acoustics theory. In the latter, the strong-shock case, the fronts beyond focus are uncrossed, as predicted by the theory of shock dynamics. It is emphasized that in both cases the behaviour at the focus is nonlinear. The overtaking of the diffraction shocks by the diffracted expansions limits the amplitude of the converging wave near focus, and is the mechanism by which the maximum amplification factor observed at focus is determined. In all cases, maximum pressures are limited to rather low values.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Additional Information:Copyright © 1976 Cambridge University Press. Reprinted with permission. (Received 23 May 1975) The authors are grateful for the support of this work by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research under grant 71-2092.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Air Force Office of Scientific Research71-2092
Issue or Number:4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:STUjfm76
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:12353
Deposited By: Archive Administrator
Deposited On:12 Nov 2008 23:45
Last Modified:08 Nov 2021 22:27

Repository Staff Only: item control page