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A recent publication [K. J. Peterson , Phys. Plasmas , 092701 (2012)] describes simulations and experiments of electrothermal instability growth on well characterized initially solid aluminum and copper rods driven with a 20 MA, 100 ns rise time current pulse on Sandia National Laboratories Z accelerator. Quantitative analysis of the high precision radiography data obtained in the experiments showed excellent agreement with simulations and demonstrated levels of instability growth in dense matter that could not be explained by magneto-Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities alone. This paper extends the previous one by examining the nature of the instability growth in 2D simulations in much greater detail. The initial instability growth in the simulations is shown via several considerations to be predominantly electrothermal in nature and provides a seed for subsequent magneto-Rayleigh-Taylor growth.


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