Counter-propagating radiative shock experiments on the Orion laser and the formation of radiative precursors

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We present results from new experiments to study the dynamics of radiative shocks, reverse shocks and radiative precursors. Laser ablation of a solid piston by the Orion high-power laser at AWE Aldermaston UK was used to drive radiative shocks into a gas cell initially pressurised between 0.1 and 1.0 bar with different noble gases. Shocks propagated at 80 ± 10  km/s and experienced strong radiative cooling resulting in post-shock compressions of ×25 ± 2. A combination of X-ray backlighting, optical self-emission streak imaging and interferometry (multi-frame and streak imaging) were used to simultaneously study both the shock front and the radiative precursor. These experiments present a new configuration to produce counter-propagating radiative shocks, allowing for the study of reverse shocks and providing a unique platform for numerical validation. In addition, the radiative shocks were able to expand freely into a large gas volume without being confined by the walls of the gas cell. This allows for 3-D effects of the shocks to be studied which, in principle, could lead to a more direct comparison to astrophysical phenomena. By maintaining a constant mass density between different gas fills the shocks evolved with similar hydrodynamics but the radiative precursor was found to extend significantly further in higher atomic number gases (∼4 times further in xenon than neon). Finally, 1-D and 2-D radiative-hydrodynamic simulations are presented showing good agreement with the experimental data.




Clayson, T., Suzuki-Vidal, F., Lebedev, S. V., Swadling, G. F., Stehlé, C., Burdiak, G. C., … Danson, C. (2017). Counter-propagating radiative shock experiments on the Orion laser and the formation of radiative precursors. High Energy Density Physics, 23, 60–72.

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