Shock Waves

A shock wave is any compressional wave of energy or matter caused by the shock of an explosion that travels through a surrounding medium. In space, these phenomena are typically created by the destruction of large planetary or stellar bodies, and can sometimes carry subspace effects.

In 2293, a massive subspace shock wave was caused by an explosion on the Klingon moon Praxis. This resulted in severe damage to the ozone layer of Qo'noS. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; VOY: "Flashback")

In 2371, a level-12 shock wave was created by the collapse of the Amargosa star by a trilithium weapon, destroying the entire star system. (Star Trek Generations)

In an alternate timeline in 2371, USS Voyager encountered a shock wave emanating from a massive polaric ion detonation on Makull's homeworld. The shock wave never occurred after Kathryn Janeway and Tom Paris averted the explosion. (VOY: "Time and Again")

In 2373, the crew of Voyager observed a supernova explosion. The pressure on the leading edge of the subsequent shock waves was over ninety kilopascals, which was 30% more than they predicted. (VOY: "The Q and the Grey")

In 2375, Voyager could not use its phasers to stop Tom Paris from destroying a Monean underwater oxygen refinery from the Delta Flyer, because the phasers would produce a hydrodynamic shock wave that would have caused substantial collateral damage. (VOY: "Thirty Days")

In 2377, the exploding Tactical Cube 138 caused a shock wave. (VOY: "Unimatrix Zero, Part II")

The same year Voyager detected an energy discharge created by a long-range subspace warhead that produced a level-9 shock wave. (VOY: "Human Error")
A shock wave is a type of propagating disturbance. Like an ordinary wave, it carries energy and can propagate through a medium (solid, liquid, gas or plasma) or in some cases in the absence of a material medium, through a field such as the electromagnetic field. Shock waves are characterized by an abrupt, nearly discontinuous change in the characteristics of the medium.[1] Across a shock there is always an extremely rapid rise in pressure, temperature and density of the flow. In supersonic flows, expansion is achieved through an expansion fan. A shock wave travels through most media at a higher speed than an ordinary wave.

Unlike solitons (another kind of nonlinear wave), the energy of a shock wave dissipates relatively quickly with distance. Also, the accompanying expansion wave approaches and eventually merges with the shock wave, partially cancelling it out. Thus the sonic boom associated with the passage of a supersonic aircraft is the sound wave resulting from the degradation and merging of the shock wave and the expansion wave produced by the aircraft.

When a shock wave passes through matter, the total energy is preserved but the energy which can be extracted as work decreases and the entropy increases. This, for example, creates additional drag force on aircraft with shocks.

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