Nuclear Weapons
Atomic Bombs

What is an atomic bomb?

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2016-04-11 21:41:19

There are two basic types of nuclear weapons: those that get

most of their energy from nuclear fission

reactions alone, and those that use fission reactions to begin

nuclear fusion reactions that produce a huge

explosive output.

The fission type bombs are called atomic bombs or atom bombs

(abbreviated as A-bombs).

In fission weapons, a mass enriched uranium or plutonium is brought

to a supercritical mass (the

amount of material needed to start a nuclear chain reaction) either

by shooting one piece

of sub-critical material into another (the "gun" method) or by

squeezing together sub-critical spheres

by using chemical explosives (the "implosion" method).

The fission way can be only be used if the fissile material is


A major challenge in all nuclear weapon designs is to make sure

that a very large fraction of the fuel is consumed before the

weapon destroys itself.

The amount of energy released by fission bombs can range from the

equivalent of just under

a ton of TNT, to upwards of 500,000 tons (500 kilotons) of


All fission reactions produce radioactive remains. Many fission

products are either highly radioactive (but short-lived) or

moderately radioactive (but long-lived). That makes them a form of

radioactive contamination if not fully contained.

Fission products are the principal radioactive component of nuclear


The most commonly used fissile materials for nuclear weapons have

been uranium-235 and plutonium-239. Less commonly used has been

uranium-233. Neptunium-237 and some isotopes of americium may be


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2015-08-26 03:45:45

An atomic bomb is any bomb which obtains its destructive energy

from the excess binding energy of atomic nuclei. The term is

most commonly applied to bombs that release the excess binding

energy of heavy atoms by fissioning them to form lighter atoms, but

can equally correctly be applied to bombs that release the excess

binding energy of light atoms by fusing them to form heavier atoms

(however such bombs are most commonly called hydrogen bombs).

The fine details of this are somewhat blurred as most modern

nuclear weapons use some combination of both fission and fusion,

regardless of what they are called (e.g. dial-a-yield tritium gas

fusion boosted atomic bombs, conventionally built hydrogen fusion

bombs usually get more than 90% of their yield from fast fission of

their depleted uranium tamper) to optimize their


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Wiki User
2015-07-20 10:33:34

An atomic bomb is a nuclear weapon which obtains its destructive

energy from nuclear fission.

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