Doppler Effect

The Doppler effect is the change in frequency of a wave (or other periodic event) for an observer moving relative to its source. It is named after the Austrian physicist Christian Doppler, who proposed it in 1842 in Prague. It is commonly heard when a vehicle sounding a siren or horn approaches, passes, and recedes from an observer. Compared to the emitted frequency, the received frequency is higher during the approach, identical at the instant of passing by, and lower during the recession.

The Doppler shift is a shift in the wavelength of light or sound that depends on the relative motion of the source and the observer. A familiar example of a Doppler shift is the apparent change in pitch of an ambulance siren as it passes a stationary observer. When a vehicle with a siren passes you, a noticeable drop in the pitch of the sound of the siren will be observed as the vehicle passes. This is an example of the Doppler effect. An approaching source moves closer during period of the sound wave so the effective wavelength is shortened, giving a higher pitch since the velocity of the wave is unchanged. Similarly the pitch of a receding sound source will be lowered.