The Lyman capillary-discharge source produces an intense continuum that extends to below 200 Å, overlaid with emission and absorption lines. The mechanisms by which the radiation is produced have never been fully explained. In the present study, using high-speed photography with time resolution of 50 ns, we found that with hydrogen as the filling gas, a high-velocity shock wave leaves the capillary some 0.4 µs before the onset of capillary glow. A model for the mechanisms involved in the discharge is proposed and shown to be compatible with previous workers’ observations.
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