Speed of sound

The speed of sound is the distance travelled during a unit of time by a sound wave propagating through an elastic medium. In dry air at 20 °C (68 °F), the speed of sound is 343.2 metres per second (1,126 ft/s). This is 1,236 kilometres per hour (768 mph), or about one kilometer in three seconds or approximately one mile in five seconds. In fluid dynamics, the speed of sound in a fluid medium (gas or liquid) is used as a relative measure of speed itself. The speed of an object (in distance per time) divided by the speed of sound in the fluid is called the Mach number. Objects moving at speeds greater than Mach1 are traveling at supersonic speeds. The speed of sound in an ideal gas is independent of frequency, but it weakly depends on frequency for all real physical situations. It is a function of the square root of the absolute temperature, but is independent of pressure or density for a given ideal gas. Sound speed is slightly dependent on pressure only because air is not quite an ideal gas. In addition, for different gases, the speed of sound is inversely dependent on square root of the mean molecular weight of the gas, and affected to a lesser extent by the number of ways in which the molecules of the gas can store heat from compression, since sound in gases is a type of compression. Although (in the case of gases only) the speed of sound is expressed in terms of a ratio of both density and pressure, these quantities cancel in ideal gases at any given temperature, composition, and heat capacity. This leads to a velocity expression in ideal gases using only the latter independent variables. In common everyday speech, speed of sound refers to the speed of sound waves in air. However, the speed of sound varies from substance to substance. Sound travels faster in liquids and non-porous solids than it does in air. It travels about 4.3 times as fast in water (1,484 m/s), and nearly 15 times as fast in iron (5,120 m/s), than in air at 20 degrees Celsius. Sound waves in solids are composed of compression waves (just as in gases and liquids), but also exhibit a different type of sound wave called a shear wave, which occurs only in solids. These different types of waves in solids usually travel at different speeds, as exhibited in seismology. The speed of a compression sound wave in solids is determined by the medium's compressibility, shear modulus and density. The speed of shear waves is determined only by the solid material's shear modulus and density.Supersonic speed is a rate of travel of an object that exceeds the speed of sound (Mach 1). For objects traveling in dry air of a temperature of 20 °C (68 °F) at sea level, this speed is approximately 343 m/s, 1,125 ft/s, 768 mph, 667 knots, or 1,235 km/h. Speeds greater than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5) are often referred to as hypersonic. Flight during which only some parts of the air around an object, such as the ends of rotor blades, reach supersonic speeds are called transonic. This occurs typically somewhere between Mach 0.8 and Mach 1.23 Sounds are traveling vibrations in the form of pressure waves in an elastic medium. In gases, sound travels longitudinally at different speeds, mostly depending on the molecular mass and temperature of the gas, and pressure has little effect. Since air temperature and composition varies significantly with altitude, Mach numbers for aircraft may change despite a constant travel speed. In water at room temperature supersonic speed can be considered as any speed greater than 1,440 m/s (4,724 ft/s). In solids, sound waves can be polarized longitudinally or transversely and have even higher velocities. Supersonic fracture is crack motion faster than the speed of sound in a brittle material.