Sonic boom is the thundering noise an observer experiences when an aircraft is traveling at speeds greater than the speed of sound (~340 m/s). As the aircraft breaches the speed of sound (sound barrier), shock waves are generated. These shock waves have a dramatic impact of the properties of air such as pressure, temperature etc. The sudden changes in pressure as the air moves through the shock wave creates the noise that is referred to as sonic boom.
The sound (or sonic) barrier is a term historically used to address the impossibility for aircraft to fly faster than the speed of sound due to a sudden increase of drag due to transonic phenomena. Scientists discovered that the fuselage and the wing shape would affect the drag increase. This, also combined with more powerful engines, allowed humankind to achieve supersonic flights.
Nowadays, this term is still used to describe an aircraft flying supersonic (breaking the sound barrier).
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