When exposed to ultraintense x-radiation sources such as free electron lasers (FELs) the innermost electronic shell can efficiently be emptied, creating a transient hollow atom or molecule. Understanding the femtosecond dynamics of such systems is fundamental to achieving atomic resolution in flash diffraction imaging of noncrystallized complex biological samples. We demonstrate the capacity of a correlation method called "partial covariance mapping" to probe the electron dynamics of neon atoms exposed to intense 8 fs pulses of 1062 eV photons. A complete picture of ionization processes competing in hollow atom formation and decay is visualized with unprecedented ease and the map reveals hitherto unobserved nonlinear sequences of photoionization and Auger events. The technique is particularly well suited to the high counting rate inherent in FEL experiments.
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