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Potential for the Vishniac instability in ionizing shock waves propagating into cold gases

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JournalPhysics of Plasmas
DateAccepted/In press - 13 Apr 2018
DatePublished (current) - 2 May 2018
Issue number5
Number of pages6
Original languageEnglish


The Vishniac instability was posited as an instability that could affect supernova remnants in their late stage of evolution when subject to strong radiative cooling, which can drive the effective ratio of specific heats below 1.3. The potential importance of this instability to these astrophysical objects has motivated a number of laser-driven laboratory studies. However, the Vishniac instability is essentially a dynamical instability that should operate independently of whatever physical processes happen to reduce the ratio of specific heats. In this paper, we examine the possibility that ionization and molecular dissociation processes can achieve this, and we show that this is possible for a certain range of shock wave Mach numbers for ionizing/dissociating shock waves propagating into cold atomic and molecular gases.

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