A slipstream is a region behind a moving object in which a wake of fluid (typically air or water) is moving at velocities comparable to the moving object (in comparison to the ambient fluid through which the object is moving). The term slipstream also applies to the similar region adjacent to an object with a fluid moving around it. "Slipstreaming" or "drafting" works because of the relative motion of the fluid in the slipstream.

A slipstream created by turbulent flow has a slightly lower pressure than the ambient fluid around the object. When the flow is laminar, the pressure behind the object is higher than the surrounding fluid.

The shape of an object determines how strong the effect is. In general, the more aerodynamic an object is, the smaller and weaker its slipstream will be. For example, a box-like front (relative to the object's motion) will collide with the medium's particles at a high rate, transferring more momentum from the object to the fluid than a more aerodynamic object. A bullet-like profile will cause less turbulence and create a more laminar flow.

A tapered rear will permit the particles of the medium to rejoin more easily and quickly than a truncated rear. This reduces lower-pressure effect in the slipstream, but also increases skin friction (in engineering designs, these effects must be balanced).

The term "slipstreaming" describes an object traveling inside the slipstream of another object (most often objects moving through the air though not necessarily flying). If an object is inside the slipstream behind another object, moving at the same speed, the rear object will require less power to maintain its speed than if it were moving independently. In addition, the leading object will be able to move faster than it could independently, because the rear object reduces the effect of the low-pressure region on the leading object.

Read more about Slipstream:  Drafting, Spiral Slipstream

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Famous quotes containing the word slipstream:

    The Thirties dreamed white marble and slipstream chrome, immortal crystal and burnished bronze, but the rockets on the Gernsback pulps had fallen on London in the dead of night, screaming. After the war, everyone had a car—no wings for it—and the promised superhighway to drive it down, so that the sky itself darkened, and the fumes ate the marble and pitted the miracle crystal.
    William Gibson (b. 1948)