The paper deals with the flow properties of dense gases in the throat area of slender nozzles. Starting from the Navier–Stokes equations supplemented with realistic equations of state for gases which have relatively large specific heats a novel form of the viscous transonic small-perturbation equation is derived. Evaluation of the inviscid limit of this equation shows that three sonic points rather than a single sonic point may occur during isentropic expansion of such media, in contrast to the case of perfect gases. As a consequence, a shock-free transition from subsonic to supersonic speeds cannot, in general, be achieved by means of a conventional converging–diverging nozzle. Nozzles leading to shock-free flow fields must have an unusual shape consisting of two throats and an intervening antithroat. Additional new results include the computation of the internal thermoviscous structure of weak shock waves and a phenomenon referred to as impending shock splitting. Finally, the relevance of these results to the description of external transonic flows is discussed briefly.
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