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bow shock

[bou] /baʊ/
noun, Astronomy
the shock front along which the solar wind encounters a planet's magnetic field.
1945-50 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for bow shock
  • When the wind hits this field it creates a shock wave known as the bow shock.
  • To the left that jet is creating a visible bow shock.
Contemporary definitions for bow shock

a supersonic shock wave created when a solar wind collides with another medium, such as a planet's magnetic field


Bow shock is quite similar to the shock forming ahead of the wing of a supersonic airplane.

Word Origin

patterned on bow wave, which a boat makes in the water due to the motion of the boat in the water's 21st Century Lexicon
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Encyclopedia Article for bow shock

progressive disturbance propagated through a fluid such as water or air as the result of displacement by the foremost point of an object moving through it at a speed greater than the speed of a wave moving across the water. Viewed from above, the crest of the bow wave of a moving ship is V-shaped; the angle of the V is determined by the relative speeds of the ship and of the propagation of waves in the water.In three-dimensional space-for example, when describing the wave produced by a plane flying at supersonic speed-the bow wave is conical in shape. In this case an observer on the ground experiences a sonic boom when the bow wave passes. See also wave motion.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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