THE HANS INDIA |
Sep 05,2017 , 01:10 AM IST
North Korea on Sunday detonated a powerful nuclear device that it claimed was a hydrogen bomb that could be attached to a missile capable of reaching the mainland United States. North Korea had already tested two ICBMs in July that could fly about 10,000 km (6,200 miles), putting many parts of the US mainland within range and prompting a new round of tough international sanctions.
Hydrogen bombs, or H-bombs, are far more powerful than the relatively simple atomic weapons North Korea was believed to have tested so far. As opposed to the atomic bomb - the kind dropped on Japan by the US in the closing days of World War II - the hydrogen bomb can be 1,000 times more powerful.
North Korea's first three nuclear tests from 2006 to 2013 were atomic bombs on roughly the same scale as the ones used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which together killed more than 200,000 people. However, Sunday's test is estimated to have a yield of about 100 kilotons, 10 times stronger than last year's test that caused a 5.3 magnitude quake, according to Aljazeera.com.
The fundamental difference between a hydrogen bomb and atomic bomb is in the detonation process. For an atomic bomb, such as the ones dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, its explosive power is a result of the sudden release of energy upon splitting the nuclei of a heavy element, such as plutonium. This process is known as fission.
Years after the first atomic bomb was developed in New Mexico, the US developed a weapon that relied on the technology of the atomic bomb, but expanded the detonation process to create a stronger explosion. That weapon is called a thermonuclear bomb. For a thermonuclear bomb, the detonation process comprises several parts, beginning with the detonation of an atomic bomb.
The first explosion creates temperatures of millions of degrees, providing enough energy to force the two light nuclei close enough to combine in a second stage known as fusion. The yield of a thermonuclear bomb can be hundreds to thousands of times more powerful than the atomic bomb. The explosive of power of an atomic bomb is often measured in kilotons, or one thousand tons of TNT, while thermonuclear bombs are generally measured in megatons, or one million tons of TNT, according to http://www.dw.com.