Ram pressure

Ram pressure

Ram pressure stripping in NGC 4402 as it falls towards the Virgo Supercluster (off image, toward bottom left). Note the dust (brown) trailing behind the galaxy.

In physics, ram pressure is a pressure exerted on a body that is moving through a fluid medium. It causes a strong drag force to be exerted on the body. It is given by:

P= \rho v^2 [1]

where P is the pressure, \rho is the density of the fluid and v the relative velocity between the body and the fluid. For example, a meteor traveling through Earth's atmosphere produces a shock wave generated by the extremely rapid compression of air in front of the meteoroid. It is primarily this ram pressure (rather than friction) that heats the air that in turn heats the meteoroid as it flows around it.[2]

Galaxies in clusters experience ram pressure as they move through the intracluster medium; it is capable of stripping the galaxy of much of its interstellar gas.[3]


  1. ^ Relativistic Astrophysics and Cosmology, A Fabian and Lasenby, University of Cambridge Lecture Notes, Michaelmas 2010.
  2. ^ Plait, p.1
  3. ^ Grebel, Gallagher, Harbeck, pp.1-15


  • Grebel, Gallagher, Harbeck (2003) The Progenitors of Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxies ArXiv.org. retrieved Nov. 2007

External links

  • Educational materials on air resistance