Rainbows have long captivated our imagination with their vibrant colors and ethereal beauty. But did you know that there is a lesser-known, yet equally fascinating, phenomenon called supernumerary rainbows? These captivating optical wonders add an extra layer of intrigue to the already enchanting world of atmospheric optics. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of supernumerary rainbows, uncovering the secrets behind their mesmerizing colors and shedding light on the scientific principles that govern their formation.
Supernumerary rainbows are delicate bands of colors that appear just inside the primary rainbow. Unlike the primary rainbow, which is caused by the reflection and refraction of sunlight within raindrops, supernumerary rainbows are the result of interference patterns created by light waves. This interference occurs when light waves from different raindrops overlap and either reinforce or cancel each other out, producing distinct bands of colors.
The colors of supernumerary rainbows are a complex interplay of various hues. For instance, the first violet band, located at an angle of 40.6º, is formed by the combination of blues from the main primary bow, along with reds and yellows from the first supernumerary. Similarly, the second violet band arises from the primary bow's violet hue, accompanied by some reds from a second supernumerary. The greens in supernumerary rainbows are notably desaturated and owe much of their perceived color to the contrast with adjacent pinks and purples.
To gain a deeper understanding of these mesmerizing optical phenomena, scientists have employed advanced computational models. Using Airy theory and spherical monodisperse drops, researchers have calculated the intricate patterns of supernumerary rainbows. By convolving these calculations over the solar disc and weighting the composite bow color intensities with the spectral intensity distribution of sunlight at the Earth's surface, scientists have been able to simulate the intricate details of these elusive rainbows.
The study of supernumerary rainbows not only provides us with a deeper appreciation of the beauty of nature but also offers valuable insights into the physics of light. These captivating optical phenomena serve as a reminder of the complexity and intricacy of the natural world. By unraveling the secrets behind supernumerary rainbows, scientists gain a better understanding of the behavior of light and its interaction with raindrops.
Here are some key takeaways about supernumerary rainbows:
Next time you find yourself gazing at a rainbow after a refreshing rainfall, take a moment to appreciate the delicate bands of colors that may appear just inside the primary bow. These are the enchanting supernumerary rainbows, offering a glimpse into the intricate dance of light and water in our atmosphere.
Colours of a rainbow. Cross sections of bows of different colours from 0.7 mm diameter raindrops. The bow actually seen (lower section) is the sum. of all the individual coloured bows. Compare with the classical rainbow from large raindrops.
The purples, pinks and greens of supernumeraries are complex mixtures. In the example, the first violet band at 40.6º is made from blues of the main primary bow plus reds and yellows of the first supernumerary. The second violet band comes from primary bow violet with some reds from a second supernumerary. The greens are very desaturated and owe much of their apparent colour to contrast with the adjacent pinks and purples.
.The bows were calculated by AirySim using Airy theory, spherical monodisperse drops and convolution over the solar disc. The composite bow colour intensities were weighted by the spectral intensity distribution of sunlight at the earth's surface.
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"Supernumerary Rainbows". Atmospheric Optics. Accessed on November 30, 2023. https://atoptics.co.uk/blog/supernumerary-rainbows/.
"Supernumerary Rainbows". Atmospheric Optics, https://atoptics.co.uk/blog/supernumerary-rainbows/. Accessed 30 November, 2023
Supernumerary Rainbows. Atmospheric Optics. Retrieved from https://atoptics.co.uk/blog/supernumerary-rainbows/.