X-pinch plasmas have been actively studied in the recent years. Numerical simulation of the ramp-up of metallic vapor emissions from wire specimens shows that under impulsive Ohmic heating the wire core invariably reaches a supercritical state before explosion. The heating rate depends sensitively on the local wire resistance, leading to highly variable vapor emission flux along the wire. To examine the vapor emission process, we have visualized nickel wire explosions by means of shock formation in air. In a single explosion as captured by shadowgraphy, there usually appear several shocks with spherical or cylindrical wave front originating from different parts of the wire. Growth of various shock fronts in time is well characterized by a power-law scaling in one form or another. Continuum emission spectra are obtained and calibrated to measure temperature near the explosion threshold. Shock front structures and vapor plume temperature are examined.

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