Nonequilibrium Molecular Motion in a Hypersonic Shock Wave

Science  02 Aug 1989:
Vol. 245, Issue 4918, pp. 624-626
DOI: 10.1126/science.245.4918.624


Molecular velocities have been measured inside a hypersonic, normal shock wave, where the gas experiences rapid changes in its macroscopic properties. As first hypothesized by Mott-Smith, but never directly observed, the molecular velocity distribution exhibits a qualitatively bimodal character that is derived from the distribution functions on either side of the shock. Quantitatively correct forms of the molecular velocity distribution function in highly nonequilibrium flows can be calculated, by means of the Direct Simulation Monte Carlo technique.