The exhaust plume of this NASA SR-71 is a beautiful example of shock diamonds (sometimes called Mach disks). This flow phenomena is caused by a mismatch of exhaust pressure to the ambient air. The stream then undergoes a series of alternating Prandtl-Meyer expansions and oblique shocks, causing portions of the flow to be hotter then colder. The hotter sections give off a distinctive glow, leading to the visualization of the shock diamonds.

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