You might have heard the sound of an aircraft sonic boom but have you ever seen it? Now you will… NASA has recently developed a way to capture mind-blowing images of shock waves created by jet fighters. These were captured as the planes broke the sound barrier hovering over the sky.

Notice the air deformation as the aircraft flies.

Background-Oriented Schlieren using Celestrial Objects, or BOSCO technique has revealed major details about supersonic shockwaves to NASA. Specially, a visual illustration of how each surface of a supersonic T-38C produces a unique shock wave as the air buckles around it. In order to capture the images, a T-38C Talon Jet was flown by test pilots at speeds faster than the speed of sound – 761 mph – to reach a specific point in the sky from where the ground cameras could capture images at a certain angle standing below the sun.

The evident change in light refraction

After decades of experiments, finally this breakthrough in the field is expected to help develop quieter supersonic passenger planes hopefully sometime in the not-so-distant future.