We know that (in the TNG era) Starfleet's photon torpedoes are warp capable warheads, which upon detonation create a very strong matter-antimatter explosion, but what is the strength of this explosion in absolute terms, ie tons of TNT?

BTW, I'm not asking if the strength of the explosion can be adjusted, as we already know this, but what is the equivalent base/reference value in tons of TNT.

Answers based both on canon and EU are acceptable.

Edit: It has been suggested that this question is a dupe with this one. However, the latter explicitly asks about the differences between photon and quantum torpedoes, while I'm asking about the yield, so clearly it's not a dupe.

  • My answer here (on the question you said isn't a dupe) explicitly answers this question. - "According to the DS9 Technical Manual, the explosive force from a Photon torpedo is 18.5 isotons (a fictional measure that doesn't translate directly into megatonnes) with a theoretical upper limit of 25 isotonnes given ideal conditions. – Valorum Nov 7 '17 at 20:56
  • In "The Omega Directive", Kim and Tuvok alter a torpedo warhead to an 80 isotonne yield, which seems much higher than that theoretical upper limit. – Graham Lee Nov 13 '17 at 18:17

A photon torpedo contains 1.5 kg of matter and 1.5 kg of antimatter which yields 64.4 megatons of TNT, that's enough to flatten New York City.

Source - Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual

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    Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual gives the mater and antimater yields of the torpedo, the rest is conversion to megatons using E=mc^2 and you can see the result on Nukemap. – Ninja2k Nov 7 '17 at 20:56
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    @Valorum Do you have a source for that? – Ninja2k Nov 7 '17 at 21:01
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    @Valorum: How do you get that? They are magnetically confined. I don't think you can cite the lack of an explosion as evidence that ST physics doesn't match Real World physics. – ThePopMachine Nov 7 '17 at 21:26
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    You may wish to note that the yield of a matter/antimatter explosion is yielded in a fictional measure (the "isotonne") specifically to avoid any canonical real-world attempts to measure the actual yield (which could then be used to invalidate what we see happening in the episodes). – Valorum Nov 7 '17 at 21:31
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    @Mwr247 That is like saying metres is not relevant because you don't have the conversion rate to km, the technical manual is considered canon material, we know from the show that you can increase the yield of photon torpedos the same way you can with nukes, by adding more mater/antimater or adding something else to the torpedo like you can with a nuclear weapon so that is probably the theoretical limit at 1.5kg/1.5kg (An additive or different casing) but my answer is correct. – Ninja2k Nov 7 '17 at 21:46

Technical Manuals, although non-canon, state the weapons to be 64 megatons (ST TNG TM). Meanwhile in canon, it is specifically stated that torpedoes have variable yields from "knocking off the comm array off a shuttle without leaving a scratch" to "putting a 300 kilometer crater" in something (ST ENT). Keep in mind, this was before Kirk's time, when the torpedoes were originally called photonic torpedoes. In the episode "The Wolf Inside" (ST DSC) shows torpedoes literally slagging the crust of a planet, making it crack open like an egg, which goes consistent with Star Trek's high yields such as "The Die is Cast"(ST DS9),"Annihilation"(ST TOS), "Skin of Evil" as well as other episodes where the actual high end yields of these weapons go from high gigatons to low teratons.


The technical manuals aren't canon... and to be honest, it doesn't correspond with on-screen/canon data on technology in question.

From what we observed on-screen, the upper end yields for early TNG photon torpedoes seemed to have been in 500 megaton range. Later on near the end of TNG and also in DS9 we say gigaton ranges.

If you take into account exponential developments in science and technology from the real world, it stands to reason the weapons would be much more powerful nearing the start of the Dominion War, and also by the end of the said war.

In fact, by mid-late TNG, we saw that the Enterprise-D was using a low charge and tightly focused phaser beam to drill into the planets crust... estimated yields were calculated to be about 1.5% of the total phaser output (which would require low gigaton yields).

At maximum, we've seen teraton level outputs (which are not inconsistent with the other shows) coming from Federation, Klingon, Romulan and Cardassian ships in DS9 for example.

Weapons also have excessively long range... phasers in TNG were seen to have at least 150 000 km range, and torpedoes 300 000 km ranges... for the Nebula class.

If the Enterprise-D was remotely comparable (and it stands to reason it was), we need to keep in mind it received upgrades to its shields and weapons which among other things extended their range (and likely firepower).

Furthermore, the 64 megaton yields for photon torpedoes are more in line with Kirk's era (TOS and Enterprise-A).

  • Per my comment earlier, the yields are specifically recorded in isotonnes, a measure that (purposefully) doesn't translate into real figures. – Valorum Mar 23 '18 at 20:07
  • Of course that isotonnes do not translate to real figures... I'm talking about extrapolating firepower based on dialogue and what the weapons were used for. – Deks Mar 25 '18 at 18:53
  • The depiction is also wildly inconsistent. In some cases they bounce harmlessly off of shields, in other cases they're planet-busters. – Valorum Mar 25 '18 at 18:54
  • Phasers on Enterprise-D demonstrated at the very least a tightly focused 10 gigaton output at between 1-10% power output to penetrate 3 000 km of planetary crust (anything more and you risk damaging effects on a planetary scale). It stands to reason that torpedoes at that time would have been in hundreds of gigatons range (Which actually tracks with dialogue at how much planetary area would be affected if torpedoes were fired on a planet in DS9). And 'In the die is cast' we easily witnessed Teraton level yields... which is more on track with how Trek weapons should behave. – Deks Mar 25 '18 at 19:02
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    Sorry, but you're just making up numbers. You might as well say "a gajillion" given that the way these weapons work defies normal physics. – Valorum Mar 25 '18 at 19:08

Mass x acceleration = force just a 247.5kg probe traveling at .99C Would generate around 32670MT of destructive force.

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    I'm not voting to delete because it is an answer, even though it is wrong in many different ways. – DavidW May 5 at 4:39
  • That's not how they work – Valorum May 5 at 7:31

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