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A vortex created by the passage of an aircraft wing, revealed by smoke. Vortices are one of the many phenomena associated to the study of aerodynamics. The equations of aerodynamicsshow that the vortex is created by the difference in pressure between the upper and lower surface of the wing. At the end of the wing, the lower surface effectively tries to “reach over” to the lowpressure side, creating rotation and the vortex.
Aerodynamics is a branch of dynamics concerned with studying the motion of air, particularly when it interacts with a moving object. Aerodynamics is asubfield of fluid dynamics and gas dynamics, with much theory shared between them. Aerodynamics is often used synonymously with gas dynamics, with the difference being that gas dynamics applies toall gases. Understanding the motion of air (often called a flow field) around an object enables the calculation of forces and moments acting on the object. Typical properties calculated for a flowfield includevelocity, pressure, density and temperature as a function of position and time. By defining acontrol volume around the flow field, equations for the conservation of mass, momentum, andenergy can be defined and used to solve for the properties. The use of aerodynamics throughmathematical analysis, empirical approximations, wind tunnel experimentation, and computer simulations form thescientific basis for heavier-than-air flight.
Aerodynamic problems can be identified in a number of ways. The flow environment defines the first classification criterion. External aerodynamics is thestudy of flow around solid objects of various shapes. Evaluating the lift and drag on an airplane or the shock waves that form in front of the nose of a rocket are examples of externalaerodynamics. Internal aerodynamics is the study of flow through passages in solid objects. For instance, internal aerodynamics encompasses the study of the airflow through a jet engine or through an air...
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