bow shock


: the shock wave formed by the collision of a stellar wind with another medium (such as the magnetosphere of a planet)

Examples of bow shock in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web What Causes a Shooting Star? Shooting stars occur when a meteor enters Earth's atmosphere, causing a bow shock that heats and lights up both the debris and the surrounding air due to their high-speed collision. Avery Hurt, Discover Magazine, 12 Feb. 2024 This creates a bright streak in the sky due to the phenomenon called bow shock, where the debris compresses and heats the atmosphere in front of it, making both the debris and air glow. Avery Hurt, Discover Magazine, 12 Feb. 2024 BepiColombo also measured the planet’s relatively small magnetosphere – including the magnetopause and the bow shock, areas where the magnetic field meets the solar wind. Matt Hrodey, Discover Magazine, 24 July 2023 The bow shock seems to have been moving outward as Juno passed through it, the researchers say. Nathaniel Scharping, Discover Magazine, 25 May 2017 This wind expands, slams into the surrounding dust, and sculpting it into this giant bow shock formation. Phil Plait, Discover Magazine, 27 Mar. 2011 The next structure that's expected to exist is the bow shock, but that's likely to be over 100 AU farther out. John Timmer, Ars Technica, 4 Nov. 2019 However, the spacecraft only encountered the bow shock on one orbit out of many, which has led researchers to conclude that the magnetosphere was expanding during that time. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, 25 May 2017 Juno entered the magnetosphere on June 24, 2016, and encountered what is known as a bow shock—a kind of stationary shock wave where the magnetic field begins to drive away solar wind particles. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, 25 May 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bow shock.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1950, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bow shock was in 1950

Dictionary Entries Near bow shock

Cite this Entry

“Bow shock.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

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