In fluid dynamics, drag is a force acting opposite to the relative motion of any object moving with respect to a surrounding fluid. This can exist between two layers or a fluid and a solid surface. Unlike other resistive forces, such as dry friction, which are independent of velocity. Drag force is proportional to the velocity for a laminar flow, even though the ultimate cause of a drag is viscous friction, the turbulent drag is independent of viscosity. Drag forces always decrease fluid velocity relative to the object in the fluids path. In the case of viscous drag of fluid in a pipe, in physics of sports, the drag force is necessary to explain the performance of runners, particularly of sprinters. Types of drag are generally divided into the categories, parasitic drag, consisting of form drag, skin friction, interference drag, lift-induced drag. The phrase parasitic drag is used in aerodynamics, since for lifting wings drag it is in general small compared to lift. For flow around bluff bodies, form and interference drags often dominate, further, lift-induced drag is only relevant when wings or a lifting body are present, and is therefore usually discussed either in aviation or in the design of semi-planing or planing hulls. Wave drag occurs either when an object is moving through a fluid at or near the speed of sound or when a solid object is moving along a fluid boundary. Drag depends on the properties of the fluid and on the size, shape, at low R e, C D is asymptotically proportional to R e −1, which means that the drag is linearly proportional to the speed. At high R e, C D is more or less constant, the graph to the right shows how C D varies with R e for the case of a sphere. As mentioned, the equation with a constant drag coefficient gives the force experienced by an object moving through a fluid at relatively large velocity. This is also called quadratic drag, the equation is attributed to Lord Rayleigh, who originally used L2 in place of A. Sometimes a body is a composite of different parts, each with a different reference areas, in the case of a wing the reference areas are the same and the drag force is in the same ratio to the lift force as the ratio of drag coefficient to lift coefficient. Therefore, the reference for a wing is often the area rather than the frontal area. For an object with a surface, and non-fixed separation points—like a sphere or circular cylinder—the drag coefficient may vary with Reynolds number Re. For an object with well-defined fixed separation points, like a disk with its plane normal to the flow direction
An object falling through viscous medium accelerates quickly towards its terminal speed, approaching gradually as the speed gets nearer to the terminal speed. Whether the object experiences turbulent or laminar drag changes the characteristic shape of the graph with turbulent flow resulting in a constant acceleration for a larger fraction of its accelerating time.
Qualitative variation in Cd factor with Mach number for aircraft
Drag coefficient Cd for a sphere as a function of Reynolds number Re, as obtained from laboratory experiments. The dark line is for a sphere with a smooth surface, while the lighter line is for the case of a rough surface.
The power curve: form and induced drag vs. airspeed