Astrophysical radiative shocks: From modeling to laboratory experiments

Matthias González, Chantal Stehlé*, Edouard Audit, Michel Busquet, Bedrich Rus, Frédéric Thais, Ouali Acef, Patrice Barroso, Abraham Bar-Shalom, Daniel Bauduin, Michaela Kozlovà, Thibaut Lery, Ali Madouri, Tomas Mocek, Jiri Polan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Radiative shock waves are observed around astronomical objects in a wide variety of environments, for example, they herald the birth of stars and sometimes their death. Such shocks can also be created in the laboratory, for example, by using energetic lasers. In the astronomical case, each observation is unique and almost fixed in time, while shocks produced in the laboratory and by numerical simulations can be reproduced, and investigated in greater detail. The combined study of experimental and computational results, as presented here, becomes a unique and powerful probe to understanding radiative shock physics. Here we show the first experiment on radiative shock performed at the PALS laser facility. The shock is driven by a piston made from plastic and gold in a cell filled with xenon at 0.2 bar. During the first 40 ns of the experiment, we have traced the radiative precursor velocity, that is showing a strong decrease at that stage. Three-dimensional (3D) numerical simulations, including state-of-art opacities, seem to indicate that the slowing down of the precursor is consistent with a radiative loss, induced by a transmission coefficient of about 60% at the walls of the cell. We infer that such 3D radiative effects are governed by the lateral extension of the shock wave, by the value of the opacity, and by the reflection on the walls. Further investigations will be required to quantify the relative importance of each component on the shock properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)535-540
Number of pages6
JournalLaser and Particle Beams
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Laboratory astrophysics
  • Laser plasmas
  • Radiative shock waves
  • Radiative transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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