DR GARY SETTLES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR GARY SETTLES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Rifle shot, coloured shadowgraph. Shadowgraphy is a type of flow visualisation, similar to but simpler than schlieren photography. Disturbances in an air flow can be seen by the shadows they cast. This shadowgram captures an instant during the firing of a high-powered rifle. At right are the propulsion gases (blue), surrounded by a spherical muzzle blast wave. At left is the bullet, travelling at supersonic speed with sweptback waves. Hundreds of tiny supersonic particles, probably unburned gunpowder, are following the bullet. The image has been exposed for only 1 microsecond in order to freeze the motion.
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