Liquid sprays play a key role in many engineering processes and the dynamics at the nozzle exit have a significant impact on the downstream spray characteristics. However, visualizing the spray in this region is extremely challenging because, under most operating conditions, the spray is optically dense. High intensity white beam X-rays, like those found at the Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory, can be used to produce time-resolved measurements of the liquid-gas structures in the spray near-field region. In this study, high temporal and spatial resolution X-ray images were acquired at the 7-BM beamline at APS of an atomization process using a canonical airblast atomizer consisting of coaxial liquid and gas jets. Unique flow structures were observed under various operating conditions, including bag, ligament, wisp, droplet, and air bubble formation, as well as hollowing of the liquid core into a crown at the liquid needle exit. Conditions where these structures exist are presented and their impact on spray formation are discussed.

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