Nasa captured this incredible image during supersonic flight trials

This image looks like the best '80s movie poster of all time (Nasa)

This image looks like the best '80s movie poster of all time (Nasa)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

It looks an image straight out of a 1980s sci-fi flick - but we can assure you it's very real.

Nasa has released this incredible picture of an Air Force Test Pilot School T-38, during a mission at the space agency's Armstrong Flight Research Center in California.

The plane is witnessed in a transonic state, meaning it's at the very point where it goes supersonic.

The image was captured using the schelieren effect, which uses optics to demonstrate the flow of air around an object in flight. It shows shockwaves forming above and beneath the aircraft, which would be felt on the ground as a sonic boom.

As well as being incredibly cool, this image (and others like it) serve a practical purpose: Nasa researchers use this kind of pic to study the shockwaves as part of the effort to make sonic booms quieter, which may open the future to possible supersonic flight over land.

That's all well and good, but frankly we're more bothered about the pretty colours. And, wow, they are awesome.