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Such vapor can also be seen in low pressure regions during high–g subsonic maneuvers in humid conditions.
At transonic speeds intense low-pressure areas form at various points around an aircraft. If conditions are right (i.e. high humidity) visible clouds will form in these low-pressure areas as shown in the illustration; these are called Prandtl-Glauert singularities. These clouds remain with the aircraft as it travels. It is not necessary for the aircraft as a whole to reach supersonic speeds for these clouds to form.
In aerodynamics, the critical Mach number (Mcr) of an aircraft is the lowest Mach number at which the airflow over a small region of the wing reaches the speed of sound.
For all aircraft in flight, the airflow around the aircraft is not exactly the same as the airspeed of the aircraft due to the airflow speeding up and slowing down to travel around the aircraft structure. At the Critical Mach number, local airflow in some areas near the airframe reaches the speed of sound, even though the aircraft itself has an airspeed lower than Mach 1.0. This creates a weak shock wave.