The measurement of the propulsion of metallic microdroplets exposed to nanosecond laser pulses provides an elegant method for probing the ablation pressure in a dense laser-produced plasma. We present the measurements of the propulsion velocity over three decades in the driving Nd:YAG laser pulse energy and observe a near-perfect power law dependence. Simulations performed with the RALEF-2D radiation-hydrodynamic code are shown to be in good agreement with the power law above a specific threshold energy. The simulations highlight the importance of radiative losses which significantly modify the power of the pressure scaling. Having found a good agreement between the experiment and the simulations, we investigate the analytic origins of the obtained power law and conclude that none of the available analytic theories is directly applicable for explaining our power exponent. (C) 2018 Author(s). All article content, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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