We experimentally examine a laser-induced underwater shock wave paying special attention to the pressure impulse, the time integral of the pressure evolution. Plasma formation, shock-wave expansion and the pressure in water are observed simultaneously using a combined measurement system that obtains high-resolution nanosecond-order image sequences. These detailed measurements reveal a distribution of the pressure peak which is not spherically symmetric. In contrast, remarkably, the pressure impulse is found to be symmetrically distributed for a wide range of experimental parameters, even when the shock waves are emitted from an elongated region. The structure is determined to be a collection of multiple spherical shock waves originating from point-like plasmas in the elongated region.
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