Electromagnetic pulse
An electromagnetic pulse (sometimes abbreviated EMP) is a burst of electromagnetic radiation
Electromagnetic radiation
Electromagnetic radiation is a form of energy that exhibits wave-like behavior as it travels through space...

. The abrupt pulse of electromagnetic radiation usually results from certain types of high energy explosions, especially a nuclear explosion
Nuclear explosion
A nuclear explosion occurs as a result of the rapid release of energy from an intentionally high-speed nuclear reaction. The driving reaction may be nuclear fission, nuclear fusion or a multistage cascading combination of the two, though to date all fusion based weapons have used a fission device...

, or from a suddenly fluctuating magnetic field
Magnetic field
A magnetic field is a mathematical description of the magnetic influence of electric currents and magnetic materials. The magnetic field at any given point is specified by both a direction and a magnitude ; as such it is a vector field.Technically, a magnetic field is a pseudo vector;...

. The resulting rapidly changing electric fields and magnetic fields may couple with electrical/electronic systems to produce damaging current and voltage surges
Voltage spike
In electrical engineering, spikes are fast, short duration electrical transients in voltage , current , or transferred energy in an electrical circuit....


In military terminology, a nuclear bomb detonated hundreds of kilometers above the Earth's surface is known as a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP) device.