2C40.90 - Shock Wave Fronts: Rayleigh-Taylor Instability

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Shock Wave Fronts: Rayleigh-Taylor Instability
Meeting of Two Wave Fronts, Plasma Interactions
Area of Study:
Solar and Galactic Astronomy
Shock Wave Demo.

See also 2C40.90 in Astronomy.

This demo should need no preparation unless the liquids should need changing.  To change the liquids it may be necessary to empty the unit with a syringe and long needle.  Rinse several times with ethyl alcohol and dry with a small air hose.  Use water and food coloring for the bottom layer and castor oil for the top layer.  Make sure all air bubbles are removed.  Place on a level surface.  If the unit has not been used in a long time it may be a good idea to flip it over several times to rewet the inner walls with oil before demonstrating.  As the Plexiglas allows water to pass over time, it will be necessary to take the air out and refill with a small amount of water about every year.

Tilt the wave vessels from side to side and observe the waves a curls produced by the shear force of the two fluids.

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Disclaimer: These demonstrations are provided only for illustrative use by persons affiliated with The University of Iowa and only under the direction of a trained instructor or physicist.  The University of Iowa is not responsible for demonstrations performed by those using their own equipment or who choose to use this reference material for their own purpose.  The demonstrations included here are within the public domain and can be found in materials contained in libraries, bookstores, and through electronic sources.  Performing all or any portion of any of these demonstrations, with or without revisions not depicted here entails inherent risks.  These risks include, without limitation, bodily injury (and possibly death), including risks to health that may be temporary or permanent and that may exacerbate a pre-existing medical condition; and property loss or damage.  Anyone performing any part of these demonstrations, even with revisions, knowingly and voluntarily assumes all risks associated with them.