Are sound waves longitudinal?
Sound waves longitudinal
First lets see what a longitudinal waves. These are waves in particles that move along the direction of energy that is created. This is easily shown with a horizontal slinky.
In the diagram above is a vibrating string. This string is being plucked and moving the air around it.
As the string moves to the right of your screen the air molecules all bunch up into a smaller space. Molecules and particles always want to be balanced in terms of their charge. Bunching them together makes them want to move apart from each other and the only way is further to the right of your screen. This is called compression.
Do you think sound waves are longitudinal yet?
Once the string has moved to the right as much as it can it is then pulled back to the left of screen because of the vibrating string wanting to return to a straight line. As it pulls back to the left it creates lower pressure for the air molecules that have just passed on the compression wave. Now the air molecules have more room to fill but there is less of them. This is called rarefaction.
This goes back and forth as energy is transferred away from the vibrating string creating several waves until all the energy has transferred out of the string to the air.
So in answer to are sound waves longitudinal?
All this shows that sound waves moving through the air and other fluid mediums are longitudinal.