Ablative stabilization of Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities resulting from a laser-driven radiative shock

C. M. Huntington, A. Shimony, M. Trantham, C. C. Kuranz, D. Shvarts, C. A. Di Stefano, F. W. Doss, R. P. Drake, K. A. Flippo, D. H. Kalantar, S. R. Klein, J. L. Kline, S. A. Maclaren, G. Malamud, A. R. Miles, S. T. Prisbrey, K. S. Raman, B. A. Remington, H. F. Robey, W. C. WanH. S. Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The Rayleigh-Taylor (RT) instability is a common occurrence in nature, notably in astrophysical systems like supernovae, where it serves to mix the dense layers of the interior of an exploding star with the low-density stellar wind surrounding it, and in inertial confinement fusion experiments, where it mixes cooler materials with the central hot spot in an imploding capsule and stifles the desired nuclear reactions. In both of these examples, the radiative flux generated by strong shocks in the system may play a role in partially stabilizing RT instabilities. Here, we present experiments performed on the National Ignition Facility, designed to isolate and study the role of radiation and heat conduction from a shock front in the stabilization of hydrodynamic instabilities. By varying the laser power delivered to a shock-tube target with an embedded, unstable interface, the radiative fluxes generated at the shock front could be controlled. We observe decreased RT growth when the shock significantly heats the medium around it, in contrast to a system where the shock did not produce significant heating. Both systems are modeled with a modified set of buoyancy-drag equations accounting for ablative stabilization, and the experimental results are consistent with ablative stabilization when the shock is radiative. This result has important implications for our understanding of astrophysical radiative shocks and supernova radiative hydrodynamics [Kuranz et al., Nature Communications 9(1), 1564 (2018)].

Original languageEnglish
Article number052118
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics


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