Heavy hydrocarbons are irradiated with a Gaussian laser beam. The time-varying temperature distribution induced in the fluid gives rise to a surface-tension distribution. The later gives rise in turn to an accompanying liquid flow and surface-height distribution. In this paper, the time-varying shape of the induced depression is calculated as a function of the power distribution in the laser beam and of the thermal and mechanical properties of the material. The intensity distribution in the laser beam reflected from the depression is also calculated. Good agreement is found with previous experimental results.
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