What is an Atomic Bomb Mushroom Cloud?

An atomic bomb mushroom cloud is a mixture of water vapor, debris, and clouds of smoke moving through the air after an atomic bomb explosion.

I was curious to know more about atomic bombs and why they form mushroom clouds. It is in line with my paranoid nature that anything can happen to myself and my family.

I also try to teach my kids some of these findings as well. I spend lots of time with my family on survival skills with survival toys a favorite. I buy them in plenty.

In this article, I will be sharing what information I found concerning it as simply as I can. It will assist you to be prepared as I see fit.

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The mushroom cloud formation

The mushroom cloud is formed after an atomic bomb explosion is made less dense due to the surrounding air reacting with the quick release of heat.

More simply, you can imagine having two gases that have different densities. When the gases mix, the heavier gas gets supported by the lighter gas causing an RT instability.

Once the gases approach equilibrium, the heavier gas will give way to the lighter gas to pass through it. This interaction is what forms the mushroom shape.

Phases in the Mushroom cloud formation

For a mushroom cloud to be formed after an atomic explosion, it has to undergo several formation phases as discussed below:

1. Early time phase:

Within the first few seconds, an occurrence happens whereby the evaporated ground condenses.

At the first 20 seconds, a fireball formation occurs at a temperature between 3500- 4100 K.

At this time, debris ejected from the crater or the ground gets mixed with the fission products.

2. Rise and stabilization phase:

This phase occurs in between 20 seconds to around 10 minutes.

There is a rise of hot gases and a deposit of an early large fallout.

3. Late time phase:

This phase occurs two days later.

At this phase, the airborne particles are scavenged by precipitation and distributed by wind.

They are then deposited by gravity.

Wind patterns and local atmospheric conditions are what influence the mushroom cloud shape.

Physics Behind The Mushroom Cloud

The fluid movement caused by the resistance is what makes the edges of the cloud appear to be curling constantly.

Air on the surface of the fireball gets drawn back slowly, rolls about, and then gets dragged back into the core of the fireball.

Until an equilibrium establishment occurs, this cycle continues causing the fireball to rise until it reaches the same density as the air surrounding it, mostly at the ozone layer.

How High Can Atomic Bomb Mushroom Clouds Reach?

After doing some research, I found out that these atomic bomb mushroom clouds can go up to tens of thousands of feet in just a matter of minutes.

Now I am sure that if you have not witnessed an atomic bomb mushroom cloud, you have probably watched it either in the news or while watching a movie.

You can form a mental picture of how high and wide an atomic bomb mushroom cloud can be.

Here is a Summary of the Atomic Bomb Mushroom Cloud

  • It is formed when a mixture of water vapor, debris, and clouds of smoke move through the air after an atomic bomb explosion.
  • It is formed as a result of Rayleigh- Taylor Instabilities in fluids.
  • It undergoes 3 phases namely: early time, rise and stabilization phase, late time.
  • The cloud edges appear to be constantly curling because of the fluid movement caused by resistance.
  • Until the cloud reaches equilibrium, a cycle keeps on recurring whereby air on the surface of the fireball gets drawn back slowly, rolls about, and then gets dragged back into the core of the fireball.
  • An atomic bomb mushroom cloud can rise as high as tens of thousands of feet in just a matter of minutes.