Projectile and projectile motion
When an object is thrown with a certain initial velocity and that moves under the effect of gravity alone, we say that object is a projectile and the motion is projectile motion. The path of that motion is called a trajectory.
An object thrown from a height, a bullet fired from a gun, etc. are some examples of a projectile.
In real life, air resistance also affects motion but we neglect air resistance for simplicity.
Projectile thrown from the ground
Consider a projectile is thrown from the ground with some initial velocity with the angle from the horizontal(ground).
To find all the expressions related to projectile motion, we have to use the concept of the resolution of a vector.
We resolve the velocity of a projectile at all points of time to two components: horizontal component of velocity and vertical component of velocity.
And we can write: and
In the absence of air resistance, the horizontal component of velocity remains constant throughout the trajectory but the vertical component of velocity is affected by gravity. So, the vertical velocity first decreases at a rate of during upward motion, becomes zero at the top, and finally increases at the same rate of and reaches the ground.
- initial velocity
- horizontal component of initial velocity
- vertical component of initial velocity
- final velocity after time
- horizontal component of final velocity
- vertical component of final velcoty
- time taken to reach final velocity
- acceeration due to gravity
- angle of projection
Let’s first find out expressions of distance and velocity for both horizontal and vertical components:
horizontal velocity remains constant whereas vertical velocity is affected by gravity.
from euqation 1 we can write:
Substituting this value in equation 3
Where and are constant terms.
If we plot 6, we get a parabola graph. Hence, we can say that the trajectory of a projectile is parabolic in nature.
Time to reach maximum height
We take the vertical component for this calculation, as the movement of the projectile should be upward to reach maximum height.
Note that the vertical velocity becomes zero at the maximum height, as the projectile velocity decreases at the rate of at every second and becomes zero.
from equation 4:
Time of flight
Time of flight is the total time that projectile spent in the air. It is denoted by ‘T’. Remember the time to reach maximum height is equal to the time to reach the ground from that maximum height.
So, we can get the Time of flight by doubling the time to reach maximum heght.
It is the maximum vertical distance taveled by the projectile thourghout the motion. We represent maximum height by . Note that, the vertical component of velocity becomes zero at the maximum height.
It is the horizontal distance traveled by the projectile during its motion. We consider the horizontal component of velocity to calculate the horizontal range. It is denoted by ‘R’.
from equation 1:
Two angles of projection for same horizontal range
We have, horizontal range:
where, is the angle of projection.
If is another angle of projection, the range becomes,
So the horizontal velocity for the given velocity is the same for both angles of projection and
Velocity of projectile at any instant
Suppose and are the velocity components at any instant of time then, we can calculate the velocity at that instant of time using formula:
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