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Kasturi Talukdar

Updated on 15th June, 2023 , 10 min read

What Is Acceleration - Formula, Unit, Examples, Types & Class 10 Solved Questions

What is Acceleration Formula Overview

Acceleration is a fundamental concept in physics that is essential to understanding motion. It can be defined as the rate of change of velocity over time. In this blog, we will cover everything you need to know about acceleration, including its definition and formula, types of acceleration, uniform and non-uniform acceleration, tangential and centripetal acceleration, and special cases like uniform acceleration and circular motion. We will also dive into torque and angular acceleration, radius and its effect on acceleration, CBSE Class XII-related questions on acceleration, sample questions on acceleration, and additional resources on velocity, rotation, and Schwarzschild radius. So buckle up as we take you through this exciting journey of exploring the world of acceleration!

What is Acceleration and its Definition?

Acceleration refers to how quickly an object's velocity changes over time. It is calculated using the formula a = (v_f - v_i) / t. There are various types of acceleration, including uniform, non-uniform, positive, negative, and centripetal. Real-world examples of acceleration include a car accelerating or decelerating and a rollercoaster changing direction.

What is Acceleration formula and equations

Acceleration refers to the rate of change of velocity over time and is measured in meters per second squared (m/s²). It's a vector quantity that has both magnitude and direction. The formula for acceleration is given by a = (v_f - v_i) / t,

Where,

 v_f represents the final velocity

 v_istands for initial velocity

t denotes the time interval.

Acceleration can either be positive or negative based on the direction of motion. Different types of acceleration include uniform, non-uniform, centripetal, and tangential acceleration. You can calculate it using the average or instantaneous acceleration formula. Examples of acceleration in real-life scenarios include a car coming to a halt at a traffic signal and rotation along a circular track.

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Types of acceleration - positive, negative, and zero

Positive and negative acceleration are two types of motions that are widely observed in different objects around us.

  1. While positive acceleration involves speeding up an object over time, negative acceleration pertains to slowing down or decelerating an object.
  2. Another type of motion that can be observed in objects is constant or uniform motion where the speed of the object remains unchanged with time.
  3. For instance, consider a car moving on a straight road; if the driver accelerates by pressing the gas pedal, it will result in positive acceleration. Similarly, when the driver applies brakes to slow down the car's speed to halt it completely at a traffic signal or for any other reason, it results in negative acceleration. If he maintains a constant velocity while driving on a straight line or highway for some time without changing his direction nor does his velocity change for that period of time then he experiences uniform or constant motion.

Uniform and non-uniform acceleration

Uniform and non-uniform acceleration are two different types of accelerations observed in motion.

  • In uniform acceleration, there is an equal increase/decrease in speed within constant intervals; however, in non-uniform acceleration, speed changes unevenly with respect to time.
  • Positive/negative values signify the direction of motion. Instantaneous acceleration measures how much an object speeds up or slows down at a particular moment in time.

Average acceleration calculation

Acceleration refers to the rate of change in an object's velocity over a period of time. This vector quantity is calculated using the average acceleration formula: Δv/Δt.

The SI unit for acceleration is meters per second squared (m/s²) or kilometres per hour squared (km/h²).

It plays an important role in both linear and rotational motion where it denotes the change in velocity with respect to time. By dividing the difference between initial and final velocities by the time interval taken for that change to occur, we can calculate an object's average acceleration. This calculation considers several parameters such as the magnitude of acceleration, the direction of motion, positive direction and opposite direction and so on.

Read More About SI Unit of Acceleration

Instantaneous acceleration calculation

The rate of change of velocity with respect to time is known as instantaneous acceleration. It is a vector quantity that can either be positive, negative or zero depending on the direction of motion. A change in velocity divided by the corresponding time interval gives us its magnitude, which is measured in SI units such as km/sec or m/sec^2. It plays an important role in determining tangential acceleration, radial acceleration, angular velocity, torque, and so on. Its formula involves variables such as initial velocity, final velocity, displacement, radius r, period of time elapsed, and the net force acting on an object.

A velocity-time graph for acceleration

what is acceleration formula

The Velocity-time graph shows how an object's velocity changes over time. It's a great tool to understand the rate of change of velocity (acceleration). The slope reveals if acceleration is positive or negative while the zero slope implies that there's no acceleration. Moreover, it tells you about the total displacement or distance travelled by the object through the area under the curve. This graph is particularly useful when studying linear motion where speed changes over time.

Adding more secondary key terms like initial and final velocity, a vector quantity, and rotational motion parameters like radius r and angular velocity omega can help better understand how this graph impacts an object's movement.

Tangential and centripetal acceleration

Objects moving in a circular path experience both tangential acceleration and centripetal acceleration. Tangential acceleration refers to the rate of change of an object's speed along the circle, while centripetal acceleration refers to the inward force that keeps the object moving in a curved path. You can calculate tangential acceleration by using the formula a = Δv/Δt,

Where,

 Δv is the change in velocity over a period of time Δt.

Centripetal acceleration can be calculated using the formula a = v^2/r

Where,

v is the speed of an object moving along a circular path with a radius r.

Some examples of objects experiencing tangential and centripetal acceleration include amusement park rides like roller coasters and merry-go-rounds, as well as objects moving in a circular motion due to gravitation or rotation.

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Special cases - uniform acceleration and circular motion

Uniform acceleration refers to an object that undergoes consistent changes in velocity over a specific period of time.

This type of motion can be calculated using the formula:

a = (v_f - v_i) / t.

 On the other hand, circular motion requires an object to experience uniform centripetal acceleration directed towards the centre of its circular path.

Its mathematical representation is given by the formula: a_c = v^2 / r,

Where,

v stands for velocity

r for radius

As you can see, these types of special cases have profound applications in areas such as rotational motion and gravitation, both essential components in physics.

Acceleration units and conversions

Acceleration is a vector quantity that signifies the rate of change of an object's velocity over time. This implies that it has both magnitude and direction. It is measured in units like m/s² or ft/s²; alternatively, km/h² or mi/h² may be used. You can employ conversion factors or online unit converters to switch between different units. Uniform acceleration occurs when there is a constant change in velocity over time; meanwhile, circular motion results in continuous changes in the direction of the acceleration. Both have specific formulas for calculating their respective accelerations.

Difference between acceleration and velocity

The table below shows the difference between Velocity and Acceleration:

Property

Velocity

Acceleration

Definition

The direction and speed of an object's motion.

How rapidly an object's velocity is changing.

Units

Meters per second (m/s)

Meters per second squared (m/s^2)

Direction

Acceleration always points in the direction of the change in velocity.

Acceleration can point in any direction, depending on the object's motion.

Constant acceleration

Uniform acceleration happens when an object's velocity changes at a constant rate over equal time intervals.

Circular motion causes continuous changes in both speed and direction, resulting in constantly changing acceleration.

Importance

It's important to differentiate between acceleration and velocity to precisely describe and predict an object's movement.

Acceleration is a key concept in physics, and it is used to describe a wide variety of phenomena, including the motion of planets, the trajectory of projectiles, and the behavior of waves.

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Torque and angular acceleration

  • When an object is in rotational motion, torque plays an important role in determining its speed and direction. Torque can be defined as the force that causes rotation.
  • On the other hand, angular acceleration is the rate at which an object changes its direction of rotation. It is a vector quantity that measures the time rate of change of an object's angular velocity.
  • The positive or negative direction of motion determines whether the object speeds up or slows down during rotation.
  • Examples of angular acceleration include a spinning top slowing down due to friction, a figure skater spinning faster by pulling their arms in, and a car accelerating around a turn due to centripetal force.

Retardation and deceleration

Retardation and deceleration occur when an object's velocity decreases due to external factors like friction or air resistance. These forces cause a change in the object's speed and direction, resulting in a negative or decelerating acceleration. When an object moves at a constant speed in a straight line, its rate of change of velocity or acceleration is zero. However, if there is a net force acting against its direction of motion, it experiences deceleration, which can be calculated using the acceleration formula involving parameters like initial and final velocities along with time intervals. This formula can also be used to determine the average acceleration experienced by an object during a specific period.

Radius and its effect on acceleration

The magnitude of acceleration, in the case of circular motion, depends highly on the radius. This is because a larger radius means higher linear velocity, which results in a higher rate of change of direction or acceleration. To calculate the acceleration of an object moving in a circle, we must consider parameters such as torque, a moment of inertia and radial acceleration (acceleration directed towards the centre). All these factors contribute towards calculating the rate of change of angular velocity and hence, resulting in acceleration. It is essential to understand that moment of inertia represents an object's resistance to its rotation around an axis while torque causes rotational motion. Therefore, the increasing radius increases the centrifugal force acting on an object undergoing circular motion resulting in increased acceleration towards the centre.

Additional resources on velocity, rotation, and Schwarzschild radius

This section explores additional resources related to motion.

  1. Velocity refers to the rate of change in an object's position in a particular direction. This parameter plays an important role in determining acceleration- a vector quantity that describes the velocity change rate.
  2. Rotation involves movement around an axis and is often used in problems relating to tangential velocity and centripetal acceleration.
  3. Schwarzschild radius is defined as the boundary surrounding a black hole beyond which no light can escape due to gravitational forces.

Understanding these parameters can help solve problems involving displacement, deceleration, tangential acceleration, and circular motion.

CBSE Class XII-related questions on acceleration

What is acceleration?

Answer: Acceleration is the rate of change of velocity. It is measured in meters per second squared (m/s^2).

What are the different types of acceleration?

Answer: There are two types of acceleration:

  • Uniform acceleration: This is the type of acceleration where the velocity changes at a constant rate.
  • Non-uniform acceleration: This is the type of acceleration where the velocity changes at an irregular rate.

What are the different factors that affect acceleration?

Answer: The different factors that affect acceleration are:

  • Mass: The more massive an object is, the more force is required to accelerate it.
  • Force: The greater the force applied to an object, the greater its acceleration.
  • Initial velocity: An object with an initial velocity will accelerate more than an object that is at rest.
  • Direction of motion: An object that is moving in the same direction as the force applied to it will accelerate more than an object that is moving in the opposite direction.

What are some examples of acceleration in everyday life?

Answer: Some examples of acceleration in everyday life are:

  • A car speeding up or slowing down.
  • A ball falling to the ground.
  • A roller coaster going up and down.
  • The Earth orbiting the Sun.

What are some applications of acceleration in science and technology?

Answer: Some applications of acceleration in science and technology are:

  • Measuring the speed of objects: Acceleration can be used to measure the speed of objects by measuring how quickly their velocity changes.
  • Launching rockets: Acceleration is used to launch rockets into space.
  • Designing safety features: Acceleration can be used to design safety features, such as seatbelts and airbags that protect people from injury in accidents.

A car starts from rest and accelerates uniformly at 2 m/s² for 5 seconds. What is its velocity after 5 seconds?

Solution:

We know that acceleration is the rate of change of velocity.

So, if a car accelerates uniformly at

2 m/s² for 5 seconds

Its velocity will increase by 2 m/s every second.

After 5 seconds, its velocity will be 2 * 5 = 10 m/s.

A satellite is orbiting the Earth at a height of 2000 km. If its orbital speed is 7.8 km/s, what is its centripetal acceleration?

Solution:

We know that the centripetal acceleration is given by a = v²/r,

Where,

v is the orbital speed

r is the distance from the centre of the Earth.

So, if a satellite is orbiting the Earth at a height of 2000 km and its orbital speed is 7.8 km/s, its centripetal acceleration will be a = (7.8 km/s)² / 2000 km = 0.0039 m/s².

Conclusion

Acceleration is a fundamental concept in physics that describes the rate of change in velocity over time. Whether it's positive, negative, or zero acceleration, uniform or non-uniform acceleration, or tangential or centripetal acceleration, understanding these concepts and their formulas is crucial to mastering the subject. To learn more about acceleration, its types, formulas and equations, check out our comprehensive blog that covers everything from CBSE Class XII-related questions to sample questions on this topic. Also, explore additional resources such as velocity, rotation, and Schwarzschild radius to deepen your knowledge.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is acceleration?

Acceleration is the rate at which an object’s velocity changes. It is measured in meters per second squared (m/s^2).

What is the formula for acceleration?

The formula for acceleration is a = F/m, where a is acceleration, F is force, and m is mass.

What are the different types of acceleration?

There are two types of acceleration: linear acceleration and angular acceleration. Linear acceleration is the change in velocity in a straight line. Angular acceleration is the change in angular velocity, which is the velocity of rotation.

What are some examples of acceleration?

Some examples of acceleration include a car speeding up, a ball falling down, and the Earth rotating around the Sun.

What is the difference between acceleration and velocity?

Acceleration is the rate at which velocity changes, while velocity is the speed and direction of an object’s motion.

What is the difference between acceleration and force?

Force is the cause of acceleration, while acceleration is the effect of force.

What is the relationship between acceleration and mass?

The greater the mass of an object, the greater the force required to accelerate it.

What is the relationship between acceleration and time?

The greater the acceleration of an object, the greater the change in velocity over time.

What are some applications of acceleration?

Acceleration is used in a variety of applications, including physics, engineering, and sports.

What are some common mistakes people make when calculating acceleration?

Some common mistakes people make when calculating acceleration include forgetting to convert units, using the wrong formula, and making rounding errors.

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