Shock waves were explored in the thermoacoustic spontaneous gas oscillations occurring in a gas column with a steep temperature gradient. The results show that a periodic shock occurs in the traveling wave mode in a looped tube but not in the standing wave mode in a resonator. Measurements of the harmonic components of the acoustic intensity reveal a clear difference between them. The temperature gradient acts as an acoustic energy source for the harmonic components of the shock wave in the traveling wave mode but as an acoustic energy sink of the second harmonic in the standing wave mode.
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