A series of mysterious sonic booms, first believed to be an earthquake, rattled New Jersey on Thursday, the U.S. Geological Survey says.
The booms could be heard and shaking felt from southern New Jersey to Long Island, New York, and along the Long Island Sound in Connecticut, according to the USGS and
reports on Twitter.
The USGS says the first sonic boom was near Hammonton, New Jersey, at about 1:24 p.m. At least nine other booms were recorded in the next hour and a half.
But what caused the sonic booms? Sonic booms occur when a plane flies faster than the speed of sound, or supersonic.
According to NASA, a sonic boom “is the thunder-like noise a person on the ground hears when an aircraft or other type of aerospace vehicle flies overhead faster than the speed of sound or supersonic. Air reacts like a fluid to supersonic objects. As objects travel through the air, the air molecules are pushed aside with great force and this forms a shock wave much like a boat creates a bow wave. The bigger and heavier the aircraft, the more air it displaces.”
In this case, the U.S. military has confirmed an F-35C Joint Strike Fighter jet created a “number of sonic booms” off the coast of New Jersey during test flights, NBC News reports.
The video below shows what happens when the fighter jet breaks the sound barrier during a flight near Edwards Air Force base in California:
The two other booms in the video are from F-16 jets flying along with the F-35C.
According to NBC, the Naval Test Wing Atlantic was running flight tests out of Naval Air Station Pautuxent River in Maryland, which caused the sonic booms.
The military says the F-35 program “is the Department of Defense’s focal point for defining affordable next generation strike aircraft weapon systems for the Navy, Air Force, Marines, and our allies. The F-35 will bring cutting-edge technologies to the battlespace of the future. The JSFs advanced airframe, autonomic logistics, avionics, propulsion systems, stealth, and firepower will ensure that the F-35 is the most affordable, lethal, supportable and survivable aircraft ever to be used by so many warfighters across the globe.”