Atmospheric transport of neutrons and gamma rays from a high-altitude nuclear detonation

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Although radiation outputs from nuclear detonations in free space are well established, few studies exist of effect of atmospheric transport on the resulting intensity, energy, and time signatures. This report presents calculations for generic sources at high altitudes, 20-50 km above the Earth`s surface, in an atmosphere whose density decreases almost exponentially with height. The sources are instantaneous time bursts with simple energy dependences: gamma rays use an evaporation spectrum; neutrons use either a Gaussian fusion or a Maxwell fission spectrum. The observation angles vary from vertical to 5{degrees} below the horizon, and detectors are placed in either geosynchronous or ... continued below

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47 p.

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Byrd, R.C. July 1, 1995.

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Description

Although radiation outputs from nuclear detonations in free space are well established, few studies exist of effect of atmospheric transport on the resulting intensity, energy, and time signatures. This report presents calculations for generic sources at high altitudes, 20-50 km above the Earth`s surface, in an atmosphere whose density decreases almost exponentially with height. The sources are instantaneous time bursts with simple energy dependences: gamma rays use an evaporation spectrum; neutrons use either a Gaussian fusion or a Maxwell fission spectrum. The observation angles vary from vertical to 5{degrees} below the horizon, and detectors are placed in either geosynchronous or low Earth orbits (100 km). All calculations use the Monte Carlo N-Particle (MCNP) transport code in either its photon, neutron, or coupled neutron-photon modes, with the coupled mode being applied to the production of gamma rays by neutron inelastic scattering. The standard MCNP outputs are analyzed to extract the intensity, energy, and time dependences of the fluence as functions of either source altitude or observation angle. In general, the intensities drop rapidly below about 30-km source altitude or +5` slant angle. Above these limits, the gamma-ray signal loses substantial intensity but still contains most of the original source information. In contrast, neutron scattering produces little or no decrease in intensity, but it rapidly degrades much of the information about the original source spectrum. Finally, although there is abundant gamma-ray production from neutron inelastic scattering, the resulting signatures appear to provide little additional information.

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47 p.

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OSTI as DE95014936

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  • Other Information: PBD: Jul 1995

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  • Other: DE95014936
  • Report No.: LA--12962-MS
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-36
  • DOI: 10.2172/91945 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 91945
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc793208

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • July 1, 1995

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Dec. 19, 2015, 7:14 p.m.

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  • Feb. 25, 2016, 1:36 p.m.

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Byrd, R.C. Atmospheric transport of neutrons and gamma rays from a high-altitude nuclear detonation, report, July 1, 1995; New Mexico. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc793208/: accessed December 11, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.