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Learn about the life and accomplishments of Christian Doppler - the man behind the Doppler effect. Visit The Physics Classroom's Flickr Galleries and enjoy a photo overview of the topic of sound waves and music. This excellent educational YouTube video uses video footage of Blue Angels' planes to describe the creation of shock waves. This page consists of a collection of animations and photographs that depict the Doppler effect and sonic booms. This video of a firecracker explosion using Schlieren video photography depicts visible shock waves. The Doppler effect is a phenomenon observed whenever the source of waves is moving with respect to an observer. A common Physics demonstration the use of a large Nerf ball equipped with a buzzer that produces a sound with a constant frequency. The Doppler effect is observed because the distance between the source of sound and the observer is changing. The Doppler effect is observed whenever the speed of the source is moving slower than the speed of the waves.
If you are standing on the ground when a supersonic (faster than sound) aircraft passes overhead, you might hear a sonic boom. If you are standing on the ground as the supersonic aircraft passes by, there will be a short time delay and then you will hear the boom - the sonic boom.
Use the Doppler Effect widget below to investigate the effect of the speed of an object upon the amount of Doppler shifting that occurs when the source of sound moves away from the observer. This file contains additional information, probably added from the digital camera or scanner used to create or digitize it.
If the file has been modified from its original state, some details may not fully reflect the modified file. At the start of the Bumblebee program one of the first tasks was to determine how the missile would be guided to the target. 20 miles, then it was extended to 50 miles, this was later extended to 100 miles, and then 130 miles. The Bumblebee guidance concepts were based upon pulsed radar technology that was in use at the end of World War II.
For longer range intercepts some form of terminal homing was needed to guide the missile close enough to the target to destroy it. The simplest homing method is to let the target tracking radar beam function as the guidance beam to steer the missile to the target.
To achieve long range intercepts the missile must use fuel efficiently and fly the shortest possible path to the intercept. At the start of the Bumblebee Program a test vehicle was needed to perform flight tests of beam riding control. Just before launch an attitude free gyro was uncaged to produce orientation reference signals. The missile had an inherent "up" direction that was determined by a roll free gyro that was uncaged at launch. The missile could not be relied upon to maintain the initial course very accurately during boost. A speed sensing fuel control system controlled missile velocity after the booster separated and the ramjet ignited. The guidance beam itself was not aimed in the exact direction of the desired missile flight path. The beam rotated to sweep around the conical scan 30 times per second, clockwise with respect to the direction from the ship to the missile. An antenna on the tail end of the missile detected the guidance signal for the beamrider receiver. The direction to the beam axis was relative to the guidance beam, but the missile calculated wing controls relative to the missile. Pulse groups were decoded to detect the appropriate signal, and the decoder generated one output pulse for each valid code group. The ship might be rolling and pitching in heavy seas, causing the beam from the guidance transmitter to rotate.


When the missile was in the target vicinity the ship transmitted a signal in the guidance beam to activate the terminal phase of flight. The interferometer homing seeker produced rate signals proportional to changes in the line of sight bearing to the target. The design of the Talos homing target seeker was complicated by the large ramjet air intake.
The first Talos homing system had some problems inherent in the electronic components being used that caused homing errors.
Radars emit pulses of radio energy and look for reflections of the pulses from objects such as airplanes and missiles. After the homing system was already in production for the RIM-8A First Tactical Talos missile a serious problem was discovered.
Their reflections arrived at the interferometer at the same time and the signals were summed. Doppler shift is a change of frequency due to the motion between the source and the observer.
The CW homing system also solved the problem of detecting the target in a clutter of signals reflected from the background. Tests against surface targets showed that the CW seeker was effective against surface targets. When a radar signal hits a target such as an aircraft or a ship, the reflections from multiple facets of the target can combine in strange ways.
The CW homing receiver had several characteristics that made it less susceptible to countermeasures. After extensive laboratory testing the new seeker was flight tested against a variety of jamming targets.
The Talos Anti Radiation Missile (ARM) program was initiated in 1965 to produce a missile quickly for use against enemy radars in Vietnam. For ARM shots the ship did not track the target to generate midcourse guidance information for the missile.
The missile began the homing phase by diving toward a point four miles beyond the radar's expected location. The line of sight to the target changed in a downward direction and the seeker looked for signals with this characteristic. The ARM seeker had the ability to home on single pulses (monopulse) with a low repetition rate that were characteristic of some radars. The Talos ARM missiles were used to destroy North Vietnamese air control and antiaircraft radars.
This sound effect can be found on The Premiere Edition Volume 1, which was made by The Hollywood Edge. The Doppler effect can be described as the effect produced by a moving source of waves in which there is an apparent upward shift in frequency for the observer and the source are approaching and an apparent downward shift in frequency when the observer and the source is receding.
Perhaps you recall an instance in which a police car or emergency vehicle was traveling towards you on the highway.
As the train approaches, the sound of its horn is heard at a high pitch and as the train moved away, the sound of its horn is heard at a low pitch. If the source and the observer are approaching, then the distance is decreasing and if the source and the observer are receding, then the distance is increasing. But if the source actually moves at the same speed as or faster than the wave itself can move, a different phenomenon is observed.
A sonic boom occurs as the result of the piling up of compressional wavefronts along the conical edge of the wave pattern. This boom is merely a loud noise resulting from the high pressure sound followed by a low pressure sound. First you know that the pitch which you hear will be greater than 300 Hz since the sound source is approaching you.
For example, assume that the missile would be at a safe distance from the ship when it is moving 1100 feet per second. The pulse group repetition rate was not constant, but was varied according to the position around the conical scan. The missile was steered on a collision course with the target by maintaining a constant bearing to the target while decreasing the range.


Each pair of antennas drove a control system to produce movement in the associated pair of steering wings.
This allowed the missile to distinguish between the targets and home on the appropriate target.
The homing system could discriminate between multiple jammers and home on the strongest received signal. Gunner's Mate M 3 & 2, Missile Guidance and Control, Naval Training Support Command, NAVTRA 10199-B, 1972, page 81. The Doppler effect can be observed to occur with all types of waves - most notably water waves, sound waves, and light waves. If a moving source of sound moves at the same speed as sound, then the source will always be at the leading edge of the waves that it produces.
Do not be mistaken into thinking that this boom only happens the instant that the aircraft surpasses the speed of sound and that it is the signature that the aircraft just attained supersonic speed.
The application of this phenomenon to water waves was discussed in detail in Unit 10 of The Physics Classroom Tutorial. That was the Doppler effect - a shift in the apparent frequency for a sound wave produced by a moving source.
And when the ball is thrown away from you, you observe a lower pitch than when the ball is at rest. Therefore, for the same period of time, the same number of waves must fit between the source and the observer.
The diagram at the right depicts snapshots in time of a variety of wavefronts produced by an aircraft that is moving at the same speed as sound. Sonic booms are observed when any aircraft that is traveling faster than the speed of sound passes overhead. During this process of slowing down, the engineer sounds the horn at a constant frequency of 300 Hz.
So the pitch must be gradually decreasing from above 300 Hz to 300 Hz during the slowing down process. Instead of these compressional regions (high-pressure regions) reaching you one at a time in consecutive fashion, they all reach you at once. It is not a sign that the aircraft just overcame the sound barrier, but rather a sign that the aircraft is traveling faster than sound. What pitch or changes in pitch will you perceive as the train approaches you on the loading platform?
For these reasons, if the source is moving towards the observer, the observer perceives sound waves reaching him or her at a more frequent rate (high pitch). Since every compression is followed by a rarefaction, the high-pressure zone will be immediately followed by a low-pressure zone.
And if the source is moving away from the observer, the observer perceives sound waves reaching him or her at a less frequent rate (low pitch). It is important to note that the effect does not result because of an actual change in the frequency of the source. The source puts out the same frequency; the observer only perceives a different frequency because of the relative motion between them. If a moving source of sound moves faster than sound, the source will always be ahead of the waves that it produces.
The Doppler effect is a shift in the apparent or observed frequency and not a shift in the actual frequency at which the source vibrates.
The diagram at the right depicts snapshots in time of a variety of wavefronts produced by an aircraft that is moving faster than sound.
Note that the circular compressional wavefronts fall behind the faster moving aircraft (in actuality, these circles would be spheres).



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