Conservation of Momentum - Two Body Push Apart Explosion

This problem involves the explosion of two masses. A spring between two masses will push them apart. Find related material here.

The names of the masses are mass 1, or m1, and mass 2, or m2.


Before the explosion:

  • A spring is located between the two masses. It will eventually be released and push the masses apart.
  • Both masses are in motion, moving as one object in a positive direction. (See note below.)
  • Their mutual velocity before the collision is called v.


Push Apart Problem, Before Spring Has Been Released


After the explosion:

  • The masses move apart, each with its own velocity. The velocity of m1 is v1', the velocity of m2 is v2'. In the diagram below, m1 is shown moving to the left after the explosion. However, this is not necessarily so. It could also be moving to the right after the explosion. Its movement depends upon the size of the impulse produced by the spring.


Push Apart Problem, After Spring Has Been Released

What is the final velocity of m1 after the explosion, that is, what is v1'?

Invent reasonable values for m1, m2 , v, and v2'. Try solving the problem yourself. Then check your answer by plugging your initial values into their respective input boxes below and clicking the 'Calculate' button. The value for the final velocity of mass 1 will appear.

m1: m2:


Often an introductory problem similar to this one will have both masses standing still before the collision. This solver can be used for that situation, also. Just enter 0 for v.

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