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Generation of Ultrahigh-Velocity Ionizing Shocks with Petawatt-Class Laser Pulses

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  • P. M. Nilson
  • S. P. D. Mangles
  • L. Willingale
  • M. C. Kaluza
  • A. G. R. Thomas
  • M. Tatarakis
  • Z. Najmudin
  • R. J. Clarke
  • K. L. Lancaster
  • S. Karsch
  • J. Schreiber
  • R. G. Evans
  • A. E. Dangor
  • K. Krushelnick
Article number255001
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>18/12/2009
<mark>Journal</mark>Physical review letters
Issue number25
Number of pages4
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Ultrahigh-velocity shock waves (similar to 10 000 km/s or 0.03c) are generated by focusing a 350-TW laser pulse into low-density helium gas. The collisionless ultrahigh-Mach-number electrostatic shock propagates from the plasma into the surrounding gas, ionizing gas as it becomes collisional. The shock undergoes a corrugation instability due to propagation of the ionizing shock within the gas (the Dyakov-Kontorovich instability). This system may be relevant to the study of very high-Mach-number ionizing shocks in astrophysical situations.