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Formation of transverse inhomogeneities in the corona of a solid target irradiated by an inhomogeneous main laser pulse and a uniform background pulse was observed experimentally via side-on shadowgraphy. The experimental results were successfully interpreted using a two-dimensional hydrodynamics code. Our simulations identified the onset of sharp contact boundaries between plasma streams of different expansion velocities. The formation and the decay of the contact boundaries is investigated indoi:10.1017/s0263034602201135 fatcat:fvmsouans5c7rhnbfnd625hixu