In this article, we present a laboratory astrophysics experiment on radiative shocks and its interpretation using simple modelization. The experiment is performed with a 100-J laser (pulse duration of about 0.5 ns) which irradiates a 1-mm3 xenon gas-filled cell. Descriptions of both the experiment and the associated diagnostics are given. The apparition of a radiation precursor in the unshocked material is evidenced from interferometry diagrams. A model including self-similar solutions and numerical ones is derived and fairly good agreements are obtained between the theoretical and the experimental results.
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