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Homework Help: Momentum Conservation => EXPLOSION

  1. Mar 24, 2009 #1
    A projectile of mass M is moving in the +x direction with speed V when it explodes into two fragments: a lighter one having mass M/4 and a heavier one having mass 3M/4. The heavier fragment moves in the -y direction with speed V.

    What is the speed of the lighter fragment? (Assume there are no external forces acting on the system).

    A) V
    B) 2V
    C) 3V
    D) 4V
    E) 5V

    So the momentum after is equal to the momentum before.

    So... mVbx = (1/4)mvx + (3/4)mVx
    mVbx = (1/4)mvx + (0)
    mVbx = (1/4)mvx => vx = 4Vb

    So... mvby = (1/4)mvy + (3/4)mVy => vy = Vb

    Thus... 4vb+vb = 5vb

    The answer is E, correct? Can somebody please look over this and confirm whether this is right or wrong? I'm not too confident. Thanks guys!
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 24, 2009 #2


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    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The answer is correct but your work as best I can follow is not (Which is why I don't give multiple choice tests).

    Write your momentum equation as a vector and then identify components. Then you will solve for x and y components of the lighter mass' velocity. Remember then that the speed is the magnitude of this vector so take the square root of the sum of the squares of the components.
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