Asymmetry in the collective dynamics of ponderomotively-driven electrons in the interaction of an ultraintense laser pulse with a relativistically transparent target is demonstrated experimentally. The 2D profile of the beam of accelerated electrons is shown to change from an ellipse aligned along the laser polarization direction in the case of limited transparency, to a double-lobe structure aligned perpendicular to it when a significant fraction of the laser pulse co-propagates with the electrons. The temporally-resolved dynamics of the interaction are investigated via particle-in-cell simulations. The results provide new insight into the collective response of charged particles to intense laser fields over an extended interaction volume, which is important for a wide range of applications, and in particular for the development of promising new ultraintense laser-driven ion acceleration mechanisms involving ultrathin target foils.
Dataset contains experimental data taken using the Astra-Gemini laser facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. Simulations were conducted using EPOCH code and the ARCHER supercomputer.