( 2000. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved. Printed in U.S.A.

` ` ü Commissariat a lÏEnergie Atomique/DRIF, 91680 Bruyere-le-Chatel, France Received 1999 January 19 ; accepted 1999 December 13

ABSTRACT If it is very difficult to dispose of a large number of experimental results to study complex astrophysical phenomena such as those involved in the explosion of supernovae, it has, however, already been shown that well-controlled experiments performed in the laboratory can reproduce some interesting features of these phenomena. Furthermore, it would be still more interesting if these experiments could also highlight events that are not yet well understood. We present here such an experimental attempt using laser-generated plasmas. The radiation phenomena that are referred to result from the interaction of the high-velocity supernova debris with the surrounding ambient plasma left over from the stellar wind of the supernovae progenitor. Subject headings : hydrodynamics È radiative transfer È shock waves


The initial interaction of a supernova with its surrounding medium gives rise to a double-shell structure bounded by shock waves (Chevalier & Blondin 1995). The deceleration of the supernova gas is subject to hydrodynamic instabilities, and proposals have been made to study these instabilities by means of laser experiments (Chevalier 1997 ; Remington 1997). Along with hydrodynamics, the radiative heat, exchange between the supernova gas and the external medium is an interesting Ðeld that can be investigated by laser experiments. Laser plasmas can e†ectively become an appropriate tool to study the radiation emission of the supernova surrounding medium. It is well known (Chevalier 1997) that the emission of some types of supernovae (SN 1993, for example) is dominated by radiation in their interaction with a dense stellar wind released before explosion. If it appears difficult to reproduce in the laboratory all the thermodynamic characteristics of the supernova explosion, it may be possible to learn more about some phenomenological aspects of supernova radiation emission. The blast wave created by a supernova explosion has a typical velocity of 5000È10,000 km s~1, but it gradually decelerates over its lifetime as it sweeps up many cubic parsecs of interstellar gas. The initial velocities mentioned above correspond to very high radiation temperature at equilibrium (3È8 keV), and the shocked circumstellar medium should be transparent or partially transparent to its own radiation emission. Correlatively, this emission is very weak, which is the reason why the forward shock is generally supposed to be adiabatic (Blondin et al. 1998). But it is only an approximation that has some consequences ; one is that the small amount of energy radiated by the shock circumstellar region creates a thermal radiative precursor in the unperturbed ambient medium ahead of the forward shock. As we will see below, the temperature and the size of this thermal precursor are going to increase with time until the deceleration of supernova gas is important enough to decrease the radiation temperature inside the shocked medium. This precursor makes the X-ray emission of the shocked surrounding medium more complex. If the high velocities that can be obtained with laser plasmas (several hundred km s~1) cannot compete with those of supernova explosions, nevertheless, these are high 253

enough to study the radiative precursor phenomena. This means that it becomes possible to determine the conditions required for its appearance and its development phases.


By a laser irradiating thin plane targets, we get highshock velocities that can behave like the supernova surrounding medium. The strong shock wave induced is at Ðrst described by the Hugoniot equations, this is the adiabatic shock wave. It exists when the temperature of the shocked material is so low that no radiation is emitted. If the propagation velocity D is high enough, the temperature of the shocked material rises, and when it reaches a critical value T given by the relation below, the radiation losses do not CR remain negligible. The compressed material losing energy, the shock wave is no longer adiabatic and can be described by the radiation heat conduction approximation. In that case the shock is said to be supercritical (Zeldovich & Raiser 1966, II, 536) : pT 4 \ D(T )o e(T ) , (1) CR CR 0 CR where p is the Stefan-Boltzmann constant, o is the initial density, and e is the speciÐc internal energy. 0 We studied this regime and examined the supercritical shock wave by laser accelerating an Al foil in xenon gas, and the corresponding shock velocity was as large as 1.2 ] 107 cm s~1 (Bozier et al. 1986). This represents the current knowledge on radiating shocks. But owing to new laser experiments, we go farther. To create a very high temperature (evidence the existence of the hypercritical) shock wave, we irradiated cylindrical CH foam targets with four laser beams focused on one of their bases. The cylinders were 200 or 300 km in diameter, and their lengths varied from 300 km to 1 mm. The foam density was equal to 5 ] 10~2 g cm~3. The incident laser irradiances were 1.5 or 5 ] 1014 W cm~2 with a 1 ns pulse duration at the wavelength of 0.35 km. The propagations of radiative phenomena were observed owing to a backlighting diagnostic by imaging the axis of the target onto the slit of a streak camera. A Ðfth laser beam was focused on a gold disk to create an X-ray source behind the target in the observation line of sight. Its radiation was transmitted through the target when the foam became hot enough to be transparent to the gold emission (Le Breton et al. 1996). The experimental scheme is shown in Figure 1.

FIG. 1.ÈExperimental scheme

FIG. 2.ÈTime-resolved backlighting image of the CH foam irradiated at 1.5 ] 1014 W cm~2

SUPERCRITICAL SHOCK WAVE REGIME The imaging system was an improved version of a Kirkpatrick Baez microscope, the KBA microscope (Sauneuf et al. 1997). This one is composed of two orthogonal couples of grazing incidence SiO mirrors giving a spatial 2 resolution of 5 km in a 1 mm Ðeld of view. The magniÐcation was 10, so the spatial resolution of the images was not deteriorated by the streak camera characteristics. The streak camera temporal resolution was 30 ps. The spectral response of the diagnostic was given by the mirrors reÑectivity, the Ðlters transmission (2000 A Al plus 2000 A CH for Ž Ž the Ðrst one and 2800 A Al plus 0.12 km Mylar for the Ž second one) and the streak camera photocathode sensitivity. Taking the X-ray source emission spectra, which is maximum at 300 eV for gold, and the heated foam transmission into account, the global spectral response of the measurement could mainly be represented by one window at 270 eV with a 25 eV FWHM. The experimental results are presented in Figures 2 and 3 respectively for the two irradiances values we used. The laser beams were impinging from the right. The X-ray


source is more or less visible on the right side of the pictures because of its possible extension beyond the target limit. The foams are opaque at the beginning and become progressively transparent as they are heated by the propagating fronts. The comparison made between the shots performed with and without the X-ray source demonstrates that the observed light comes either from beyond the target limit or is really due to the foam transparency. The observed fronts correspond to phenomena that are integrated along the foam thickness (near the target axis within the alignment error that is about 30 km). And as the target irradiation was performed so that the laser beams focal spot was equal to the foam diameter with a maximum value in the center, the propagation fronts were slightly curved with a maximum velocity on the target axis. This bent shape contributed to make the observation more difficult. Despite this fact di†erent fronts can be clearly distinguished. In both Ðgures the most luminous front is the slower one, its velocity is about 1.5 ] 107 cm s~1, it corre-

FIG. 3.ÈTime-resolved backlighting image of the CH foam irradiated at 5 ] 1014 W cm~2



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FIG. 4.ÈCalculated temperature and density proÐles in the 5 ] 10~2 g cm~3 CH foam irradiated at 1.5 ] 1014 W cm~2.

sponds to the ablation of the foam by the laser. One or two other fronts appear depending on the laser irradiance. At 1.5 ] 1014 W cm~2 (Fig. 2) (for a 300 km in diameter target and a 2 mm distance between the X-ray source and the target) the fastest front has a nearly constant velocity of 4.5 ] 107 cm s~1 characteristic of a foam preheat. At 5 ] 1014 W cm~2 (Fig. 3) (for a 200 km in diameter target and a 4 mm distance between the X-ray source and the target) the fastest front has an increasing velocity evaluated to 5.4 ] 107 cm s~1 and an intermediate front propagates at 3.7 ] 107 cm s~1.


The experiments interpretation has been made using the FCI1 code and considering that the CH foam was transparent at its nominal density above 20 eV. The absorption coefficient of the foam is very difficult to estimate because of the two-dimensional aspect of the heat propagation inside the target. The X-ray source emission goes in fact through a central hot zone and through lateral colder zones the extension of which is not easily evaluable. At 1.5 ] 1014 W cm~2, the calculated density and electron temperature proÐles 700 ps after the beginning of the laser pulse are shown in Figure 4. They are characteristic of the propagation of a supercritical shock wave inside the target, the ablation front position is localized on the left of the diagram. The temperature inside and in front of the shock are equal and take the value of 86 eV. If the shock had been adiabatic, the 2.7 ] 107 cm s~1 calculated shock velocity (not measured because of its small separation with the ablation front) would have led to a temperature of 175 eV. The supercritical shock phenomena is consequently characteristic of a very large energy loose implying a smaller shock temperature. The radiative precursor dimension is about 90 km in the calculation, it is not measured because of the difficulty to distinguish the shock front in the image. The following rapid temperature dropo† allows us to get a good idea of the precursor extension in spite of the great dependence of the foam absorption coefficient with temperature. The foam transmission is evaluated to 20% from experiments. The opaque shock thickness is small (15 km from calculations)

FIG. 5.ÈCalculated temperature and density proÐles in the 5 ] 10~2 g cm~3 CH foam irradiated at 5 ] 1014 W cm~2.

and is not visible in the picture. The precursor velocity is about constant in the calculation and in the experiment and remains superior to the shock velocity indicating that the asymptotic regime of the supercritical shock is not reached.

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FIG. 6.ÈThree shock wave regimes

At 5 ] 1014 W cm~2, the calculated density and electronic temperature proÐles are presented in Figure 5 at di†erent times after the beginning of the laser pulse. The fastest front is associated with a radiative heating of the foam and the intermediate one to the shock front. The observation of these last one is here possible during the 600 Ðrst ps because of the smaller density jump, because of the higher foam temperature, and because of the smaller target diameter. After 400 ps, the temperature decreases from 340 to 70 eV through the shock. The preheated zone is 40 km long in the calculation and in the experiment. It is the beginning of a new shock structure (the hypercritical

phenomena). After 600 ps, the temperature variation through the shock, decreasing from 290 to 100 eV, is lower than previously. The preheated zone has a 100 km dimension in the calculation and can be extrapolated to a value of 140 km in the experiment (its observation being stopped after 510 ps when the end of the foam is reached). We are in a new regime. If the shock had been adiabatic, the temperature corresponding to the observed shock velocity would have been 340 eV ; the shock is, consequently, not so far from been adiabatic. After 800 ps, the temperature is 190 eV near the ablation region and 125 eV near the preheated zone, these temperatures tend to become equal. The density and electronic temperature proÐles are about similar to the ones we get at 1.5 ] 1014 W cm~2 after 700 ps (Fig. 4). The shock regime is intermediate between the new regime and the supercritical regime. Our interpretation is the following : when the shock velocity is very large the shock temperature increases so much that the shocked material becomes transparent to its own radiation. Then, even if the radiative Ñux escaping from the shock front keeps on growing, its radiation losses decrease relatively to its speciÐc internal energy. Consequently the shock wave tends to go back to the adiabatic regime. We called this particular kind of shock wave the hypercritical shock wave. However, if the shock velocity is kept constant, the shocked material thickness increases with time so that it tends to become opaque again and is no longer adiabatic ; the new regime is consequently a temporary one. Figure 6 summarizes the kind of thermodynamic conditions that are met in the three di†erent shock wave regimes discussed here.


FIG. 7.ÈSupercritical and hypercritical temperature comparison

The conditions for the existence of the hypercritical shock wave and most of its fundamental properties can be



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deduced from a qualitative description. At Ðrst the shocked material must be transparent to its own radiation, and consequently the Planck mean free path j has to be large in P comparison with the thickness of the compressed material. This can be described by the following inequality : j º P


c[1 U t, P 2

The position X of the thermal wave front can be inferred F from simple dimensional considerations, j being approxR imated by a power function j \ AT m (usually m [ 1) : R 16Ap 1@(m`5) X B '(m`3)@(m`5) F 0 3(m ] 4)




where U is the particle velocity and c is the isentropic P exponent. Second, the radiation energy must be small in comparison with the energy received by the shocked material. This condition can also be stated by an inequality : (c [ 1) pT 3 t C >1 , (3) (c ] 1) 2o C j 0 V P where T is the shock temperature and C is the speciÐc C V heat at constant volume. Third, we can deÐne a life duration t for the hypercritihc cal shock wave, which depends on the degree of adiabaticity of the shock wave. This characteristic which we might call the degree of ““ adiabaticity ÏÏ, can be measured by the following ratio : c ] 1 2o C j *T 0 V P c, t \ hc c[1 pT 3 T c c with U2 T \ P , (5) C 2C V where *T is the variation of the shock wave temperature C due to the fact the shocked material is not perfectly adiabatic. Fourth, the propagation law of the radiative precursor associated with the hypercritical shock wave can be deduced from the basic laws governing the energy radiated by a transparent material, so that its radiation Ñux ' can C be written as (Zeldovich & Raiser 1966) : Dt ' \ pT 4 , (6) C j C P we can also write ' \ ' t, with C 0 c [ 1 pU9 P , ' \ (7) 0 25 j C4 P V but ' will be usually too small to make the material ahead of theCshock wave transparent, we consequently have to use the di†usion approximation to describe the propagation of the radiative precursor through the material at rest. We also will not have to take the albedo of the precursor into account because of the important gap existing between the shock temperature and the temperature of the precursor. This is due to the fact that the energy received by the shock wave is much smaller than the energy it loses by radiation. So we can set the following relation : LT 16 , pj T 3 ' t\ 0 R Lx 3 (8)

1 t(2m`7)@(m`5) . (9) (o C )(m`4)@(m`5) 0 V This relation is not valid when t is close to 0, but the term U t must be added to relation (9) to obtain an approximate P solution of the thermal wave expansion at its beginning. ]



The thermodynamic considerations we have pointed out at the beginning allow us to compare the supercritical and the hypercritical thermal precursors. The relation (9) shows that the velocity of the thermal wave increases with time as long as the shock wave remains hypercritical because m [ 0. On the contrary, for the supercritical shock wave, as can be deduced from the relation (10) we established some years ago (Bozier et al. 1986), the thermal wave velocity decreases with time : 16Apo 1@(m`5) U3(c ] 1) 2@(m`5) t (m`4)@(m`5) 0 P X B F 3(m ] 4) 4 C V (10) the characteristic temperature T * is given by SC 3(c ] 1) m ] 4 0.25 o U3 . T* \ 0 P SC 64 p










We can compare the characteristic temperature T * of a SC ““ supercritical thermal wave ÏÏ and the characteristic temperature T * of the ““ hypercritical thermal wave.ÏÏ HC 3(m ] 4)(c [ 1)U t 0.25 P T , (12) T* \ C HC 32j P with



U2 T \ P . (13) C 2C V For a piston propagating at a given velocity in two di†erent materials having the same density, and if the shock wave is supercritical in the Ðrst one of these materials and hypercritical in the other one, we can set the following inequality : T* HC \ 1 . (14) T* SC This one shows that the supercritical shock wave precursor is hotter than the hypercritical one ; the corresponding curves in the velocity domain of concern are shown in Figure 7. The di†erences between the two kinds of thermal precursors can also be seen considering the waves time evolutions. The piston velocity starts from 0 and goes up to its maximum value (we shall suppose that this maximum value is high enough to make the shock hypercritical). If the time needed to reach the maximum piston velocity is of the same order of magnitude as the lifetime (given by eq. [2]) of the

with j the Rosseland mean free path and T the precursor R temperature at the x abscissa.

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FIG. 8.ÈRadiative astrophysical shock wave description

hypercritical shock we want to establish, we shall successively obtain an adiabatic shock wave, a supercritical shock wave, then the hypercritical shock wave. But at the end of its lifetime, as the hypercritical shock wave will thicken it will go back to the supercritical regime. With c [ 1 pU9 P , ' \ 0 25 j C4 P V the relation (9) shows the spatial expansion of the thermal precursor depends only weakly on the time it takes for the piston to reach its maximum velocity and tells us the expansion of the thermal precursor is quite fast compared with the expansion of the supercritical thermal precursor, as can be seen from relation (10).


A particular question comes from the inÑuence in the interpretation of the radiation created at the critical surface, corresponding to the limit of the laser energy absorption

zone, and at the ablation front. These can be considered comparing the relative intensities of the X-ray emitted from the di†erent parts of the foam. For an optically thin material, like the heated CH foam used in the ““ hypercritical ÏÏ experiments, the radiative emission rate (energy emitted per gram) varies proportionally to T 4 but inversely to the Planckian mean free path j , which in CH at low density o, varies like T 3.8/o1.9. So, in p at a CH constant density o , the shock radiative emission rate varies 0 like pT 4/o j and will slightly increase, like T 0.2, with the 0 T of the shock wave. p temperature In the heated foam, between the critical density up to the beginning of the shocked material, the relative decrease of the density is much more important than the relative increase of the temperature. In the domain of temperature and density we are dealing with, the Planckian mean free path varies inversely with density o, like o1.8 (see above). As a consequence of this, the radiative emission rate of the ablated part of the target is going to decrease from the ablation front up to the critical density. As a result, the


BOZIER ET AL. has been obtained in a CH foam target and its temperature was about 90 eV, that is, 5 times larger than the one we get in the supercritical experiment. Its analytical description as well as simulations conÐrmed the experimental results. This regime is characterized by an increasing propagation velocity of the radiative precursor and by a large temperature jump between the shock and the precursor which disappears when the energy feed decreases. This new shock regime and its connection to the supercritical one should be applicable to the description of radiative astrophysical shocks. These processes should occur with a more-or-less important intensity during the early times of the interaction of the supernovae gas with its surrounding medium. We think the usual hydrodynamic and radiative description might be usefully completed as described in Figure 8. The radiative shocked gas is quite isothermal and transparent to its own radiation during the ““ hypercritical ÏÏ phase and opaque and nonisothermal during its supercritical phase, but both phases are characterized by a thermal precursor ahead of the forward shock wave.

radiative net Ñux will be oriented from the ablation front toward the critical density. This radiative Ñux will induce a cooling wave propagating in the opposite direction. This phenomenon will be more or less severe depending on the optical depth of the ““ piston ÏÏ (the ablated mass of the target in the ““ hypercritical ÏÏ shock experiment we did in CH). So, in the case of a low-density and low-Z foam where the hypercriticity condition is valid, the radiative emission of the ablated part of the foam is smaller than the radiative emission of the shocked material. A second question arises from the hot electronsÏ propagation. An evaluation of the heat Ñux due to electronic conduction in the hypercritical shock shows that it is orders of magnitude lower than the radiative Ñux. As for the hot electrons generated by resonant absorption, their number is quite low at 0.35 km laser wavelength, so that electrons are far from being the main source of preheat.


We have evidenced and characterized a new shock regime, which we have named the hypercritical regime. It

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