We present complete experimental characterization of the temporal shape of an intense ultrashort 200-TW laser pulse driving a laser wakefield. The phase of the pulse was uniquely measured by using (second-order) frequency-resolved optical gating. The pulses are asymmetrically compressed and exhibit a positive chirp consistent with the expected asymmetric self-phase-modulation due to photon acceleration or deceleration in a relativistic plasma wave. The measured pulse duration decreases linearly with increasing length and density of the plasma, in quantitative agreement with the intensity-dependent group velocity variation in the plasma wave.
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