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Wing Vortex Prop (Source: www.airliners.net)

These circles I believe are the wing tip vortex formed by the propeller tips or is it just due to the rotation of the propeller. How does this occur?

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    $\begingroup$ Ethan. Do yourself a favour. Many people, in many of your questions have pointed out that wings, propellor blades and rotor blades are all the same thing. If you would finally pay attention to this, and learn it, then you would have realised and known that these are tip vortices just like wing tip vortices. The problem is, if you keep asking the same questions and not learning from people trying to help, the help will dry up. $\endgroup$ – Simon Oct 5 '15 at 14:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Simon in my head I pictured the wake on a blade to be different and that confused me to the point of I didnt know what the circles where for. $\endgroup$ – Ethan Oct 5 '15 at 18:43
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    $\begingroup$ NP. So hopefully, you now get the point that wings, propellor blades and rotor blades are all the same thing. An aerofoil that accelerates air to produce a force. Different purposes, different shapes, different designs, but all the same thing. $\endgroup$ – Simon Oct 5 '15 at 18:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Simon I do have a good understanding of it now $\endgroup$ – Ethan Oct 5 '15 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ I've seen that exact picture posted on another question (or possibly answer) somewhere, but can't find it at the moment. This is easily a duplicate of that question, if not 1/2 a dozen others. $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Oct 5 '15 at 19:38
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They are tip vortices formed by the propeller, just like the wing tip vortices.

The propeller produces thrust, just like the normal wing produces lift. As any wing of finite length produces vortices, the propeller also produces them and that is what you see in the picture.

This is not only limited to propellers. The helicopter rotors also do the same thing.

Propeller vortices

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  • $\begingroup$ can these viewed at particular environment like humidity, moisture, fog etc? or special camera needs to be used to capture these vortices, as these are created by all type of propellers in aircraft as well in helicopters. $\endgroup$ – Lucky Oct 5 '15 at 13:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Lucky These require no special cameras. These vortices are always formed by the propeller/aircraft but usually become visible in humid conditions. $\endgroup$ – aeroalias Oct 5 '15 at 13:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Lucky When air is pressurised, it's ability to hold moisture as a vapour reduces and the water condenses out. In completely dry air, you would never see them. You would need smoke, dust or some other particulate suspended in the air to see them but when the conditions are right (temperate, humidity and dew point), then water in the air condenses out when under pressure. $\endgroup$ – Simon Oct 5 '15 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ @aeroalias No special cameras, but a phone won't do in most circumstances. You'll need to be able to control shutter speed and aperture in order to capture just enough rotations for getting a pretty picture. $\endgroup$ – Rob Vermeulen Oct 5 '15 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ Why are these vortices? Vortices are produced by anything in the air that moves pretty much. What you can see on the picture however is actually water vapor or contrails. $\endgroup$ – Alexus Oct 5 '15 at 23:58

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