# Can a sound wave travel through a shockwave?

Say you have a scenario where there is a shockwave, and you sent a normal sound wave towards it. Could the sound wave travel through that shockwave? If so/not, why?

Would it depend on the strength of the shockwave? For example a sound wave might be able to travel through a weak shock but not a strong one.

(It also might depend on the strength of the sound wave itself)

I'm aware that shock waves themselves can pass through each other, (see the opposed wedges model here)

If that same thing applies to sound waves, that would indicate that they can pass through each other, but shock waves are a lot stronger than sound waves so I'm not sure this example would work.

Also, let's say for this example that the sound wave is approaching the shockwave from behind. In a real scenario that wouldn't be possible, but imagine somehow the sound wave could catch the shockwave and intersect it from behind.

I would also imagine some of the principles that apply to the sound wave intersecting the back of the shock would also apply for a sound wave intersecting the front.

• Interesting if the sound wave would be refracted by the change in air density. Commented May 9 at 23:55
• Towards it from the front, or from behind? ;) Commented May 10 at 16:31
• @MichaelHall Good question; it’d be interesting to see both scenarios. Probably from the back, as I’d imagine that would be the most common scenario on a plane (the engines making sound waves behind the plane shock) Commented May 10 at 16:43
• I was joking. Because a sound wave couldn't catch a shock wave from behind. Commented May 10 at 17:38
• @MichaelHall Oh right, thanks for pointing that out haha. Still would be interesting to see (in a theoretical scenario) what would happen if the sound wave could catch the shockwave from behind. Commented May 10 at 18:39