A 10,000-ton meteor that entered the atmosphere over Russia on Friday triggered a powerful sonic boom. So what causes a sonic boom?
The huge sound is the result of colliding pressure waves in the atmosphere generated by an object moving faster than the speed of sound, which varies depending on altitude and temperature.
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At sea level and 68 degrees Fahrenheit, sound travels at about 761 mph.
The meteor blazing through the skies over Central Russia on Friday was traveling a heck of a lot faster than that. As it moved, the rock generated pressure waves in the air, similar to how a boat creates waves from its bow and stern as it moves through water.
Because the meteor is supersonic, the waves, which travel at the speed of sound, can't get out of the way fast enough. The waves build up, compress and eventually become a single shock wave moving at the speed of sound.
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The meteor vaporized as it tore through the skies, but not before building up a powerful shock wave. When the pressure changed, kaboom! A sonic boom was heard on the ground, one that in this case was powerful enough to break windows.