A theoretical explanation of the experimentally observed depression of the pressure profile in externally pressurized gas-lubricated circular thrust bearings is presented, based on a concept new to gas lubrication, that of the generation of a shock wave in the bearing clearance space. On the basis of an approximate mathematical model, the bearing pressure distribution and load capacity are determined, and the effects of several bearing parameters are discussed. Good qualitative agreement is found between the analytical results and available experimental data.

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