The forced radial expansion of a spherical liquid shell by an exothermic chemical reaction is a prototypical configuration for the explosion of cohesive materials in three dimensions. The shell is formed by the capillary pinch off of a thin liquid annular jet surrounding a jet of reactive gaseous mixture at ambient pressure. The encapsulated gas in the resulting liquid bubble is a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen in controlled relative proportions, which is ignited by a laser plasma aimed at the centre of the bubble. The strongly exothermic combustion of the mixture induces the expansion of the hot burnt gas, pushing the shell radially outwards in a violently accelerated motion. That motion triggers the instability of the shell, developing thickness modulations ultimately piercing it in a number of places. The capillary retraction of the holes concentrates the liquid constituting the shell into a web of ligaments, whose breakup leads to stable drops. We offer a comprehensive description of the overall process, from the kinematics of the shell initial expansion, to the final drop size distribution as a function of the composition of the gas mixture, the initial shell radius and thickness.
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