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Homework Help: Energy in an elastic collision

  1. May 2, 2017 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    This is not really a homework problem, just me trying to get a ballpark number for a random problem.

    Suppose I have a neutron flying at some energy and it hits an oxygen atom. If the oxygen atom, after the collision, now has 20 keV of energy, but before, had ~ 0, is there a way I can estimate the energy of the neutron for a range of collision angles? I do not want a precise number, but just an estimate

    2. Relevant equations

    I know some equations like conservation of energy, etc., but I am still having a hard time coming up with a ballpark solution. I tried relating the masses to the energies, but that did not seem to give a number that worked either. Neutron energy was less than oxygen energy after collision which does not make sense.

    3. The attempt at a solution
  2. jcsd
  3. May 2, 2017 #2


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    Science Advisor
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    Gold Member

    There is also conservation of momentum.
    The situation has essentially two unknowns: the incoming speed of the neutron and the obliqueness of the collision. So you need two facts; the resulting energy of the oxygen atom is one, so you need one more.
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