Angular Acceleration Formula

Angular acceleration is defined as the rate at which angular velocity changes over time. It is a pseudovector in three dimensions. The SI unit of measurement is radians/second squared (rad/s2). Moreover, we commonly represent it by the Greek letter alpha (α). Learn about the angular acceleration formula here.

What is Angular Acceleration?

Angular acceleration is a measure of how quickly an object’s rotational velocity changes with time. It is a vector quantity, meaning it has both magnitude and direction. In simpler terms, angular acceleration tells us how fast the rate of rotation of an object is increasing or decreasing. Angular acceleration occurs when a torque (rotational force) is applied to an object, causing it to change its state of rotational motion.

The unit of angular acceleration in the International System of Units (SI) is radians per second squared (rad/s²).

Angular Acceleration Formula

Angular Acceleration is usually expressed in radians per second whole square. Thus,

α = dω / dt

where,
α is the angular acceleration
ω is the angular velocity
t is the time taken by the object

If angular displacement θ is given, then the angular acceleration is calculated as,

α = d2θ/dt2

Angular Acceleration Types

There are mainly two types of angular acceleration:

• Spin Angular Acceleration.
• Orbital angular acceleration

These two indicate the temporal rate of change in spin angular velocity and orbital angular velocity, respectively. Unlike linear acceleration, rotational acceleration does not have to be generated by the following external torque. A figure skater, for example, can quickly speed up his or her spin (and so acquire angular acceleration) by squeezing his or her arms inwards, with no personal torque required.

Angular Acceleration Formula Derivation

Suppose an object is doing circular motion with a linear velocity v, angular velocity ω on a circular path of radius r in time t. Now, we know the angular acceleration of an object is the first derivative of its angular velocity with respect to time. So we get,

α = dω/dt   ……. (1)

Also, we know that the angular velocity of an object is the first derivative of its radius with respect to time.

ω = dθ/dt… (2)

Substituting (2) in (1) we get,

α = d(dθ/dt)/dt

α = d2θ/dt2

This derives the formula for angular acceleration.

Angular Acceleration Solved Examples

Example 1: Find the angular acceleration of an object if its angular velocity changes at the rate of 100 rad/s for 10 seconds.

Solution:

dω = 100

dt = 10

Using the formula we have,

α = 100/10

Example 2: Calculate the angular acceleration of an object if its angular velocity changes at the rate of 124 rad/s for 4 seconds.

Solution:

dω = 124

dt = 4

Using the formula we have,

α = dω/dt
α = 124/4

Example 3: A disk with a radius of 0.2 meters is initially at rest. A constant torque is applied, causing the disk to reach an angular velocity of 10 rad/s in 5 seconds. Calculate the angular acceleration.

Solution:

Given Data:
Initial angular velocity ($$\omega_0$$) = 0 rad/s
Final angular velocity ($$\omega$$) = 10 rad/s
Time ($$t$$) = 5 seconds

Formula for Angular Acceleration:
$\alpha = \frac{\Delta \omega}{\Delta t}$

Substitute the Values:
$\alpha = \frac{10 \, \text{rad/s} – 0 \, \text{rad/s}}{5 \, \text{s}} = \frac{10 \, \text{rad/s}}{5 \, \text{s}} = 2 \, \text{rad/s}^2$

Answer: The angular acceleration of the disk is $$2 \, \text{rad/s}^2$$.

1. What is angular acceleration?

Angular acceleration is the rate at which an object’s angular velocity changes with time. It describes how quickly an object is speeding up or slowing down its rotation. The SI unit for angular acceleration is radians per second squared (rad/s²).

2. How is angular acceleration different from linear acceleration?

Linear acceleration measures the rate of change of linear velocity (straight-line motion), while angular acceleration measures the rate of change of angular velocity (rotational motion). Linear acceleration is measured in meters per second squared (m/s²), whereas angular acceleration is measured in radians per second squared (rad/s²).

3. What is the formula for angular acceleration?

The formula for angular acceleration (α) is:α=dω/dt where ω is the angular velocity and t is time.

4. What are the units of angular acceleration?

The SI unit of angular acceleration is radians per second squared (rad/s²).

5. What is tangential angular acceleration?

Tangential angular acceleration refers to the component of angular acceleration that changes the magnitude of the angular velocity. It is responsible for speeding up or slowing down the rotation of an object.

6. Can angular acceleration be negative?

Yes, angular acceleration can be negative. A negative angular acceleration indicates that the object is slowing down its rotation (decelerating).