Lecture 20: Angular Momentum - Torques - Conservation of Angular Momentum - Spinning Neutron Stars - Stellar Collapse

author: Walter H. G. Lewin, Center for Future Civic Media, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
recorded by: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
published: Oct. 10, 2008,   recorded: October 1999,   views: 49457
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike (CC-BY-NC-SA)

See Also:

Download Video - generic video source Download mit801f99_lewin_lec20_01.m4v (Video - generic video source 110.1 MB)

Download Video - generic video source Download mit801f99_lewin_lec20_01.rm (Video - generic video source 111.1 MB)

Download Video Download mit801f99_lewin_lec20_01.flv (Video 110.2 MB)

Download Video Download mit801f99_lewin_lec20_01_320x240_h264.mp4 (Video 142.6 MB)

Download Video Download mit801f99_lewin_lec20_01.wmv (Video 451.7 MB)

Download subtitles Download subtitles: TT/XML, RT, SRT

Help icon Streaming Video Help

Related Open Educational Resources

Related content

Report a problem or upload files

If you have found a problem with this lecture or would like to send us extra material, articles, exercises, etc., please use our ticket system to describe your request and upload the data.
Enter your e-mail into the 'Cc' field, and we will keep you updated with your request's status.
Lecture popularity: You need to login to cast your vote.



1. Angular Momentum of a Particle:

Angular momentum is defined relative to an origin whose position can be freely chosen. Angular momentum is therefore not an intrinsic property of a moving object, it depends on the position of the origin. The angular momentum of a projectile's motion is explored. The angular momentum changes along its trajectory. The angular momentum of the Earth's orbit if measured relative to the sun's position, is constant (it is NOT constant if it is measured relative to any other origin).

2. Rate of Change of Angular Momentum:

Torque equals the time derivative of the angular momentum. The torque acting on the Earth is zero if we choose the sun as our origin. It is NOT zero relative to any other origin. Thus the orbital angular momentum of the Earth (sun as origin) is constant.

3. Angular Momentum of Rigid Bodies:

The angular momentum of a disk rotating about its center of mass is proportional to its moment of inertia. The angular momentum associated with rotational motion of a rigid body about a stationary axis through the center of mass is called spin angular momentum. Spin angular momentum is an intrinsic property of a spinning object. It is independent of the point of origin chosen. The Earth spins about an axis through its center of mass. The total angular momentum of the Earth with the sun as the origin is the vectorial sum of the spin angular momentum and the orbital angular momentum.

4. Ice Skater's Delight:

A person stands on a turntable with weights in each hand; this person can change her moment of inertia by moving the weights near to and away from her body. A numerical example is worked out showing that the moment of inertia can easily change by a factor of three, and a live demo is given. Angular momentum is conserved, so the angular velocity increases when the weights are pulled in.

5. Angular Momentum of a System and Stellar Spin-up:

The angular momentum of a system of objects can only be changed by external torques. In stellar collapse (resulting in neutron stars and black holes) there is conversion of gravitational potential energy into kinetic energy (heat). As the star collapses, its moment of inertia decreases dramatically but its spin angular momentum is conserved. If a solar-size star with a 100 day spin period collapses into a neutron star, its spin period will become about 1 ms.

6. Supernova Explosions and Stellar Spin-up:

Slides and commentary cover: Jocelyn Bell's discovery of radio pulsars (at first called LGMs for "Little Green Men"), the mis-alignment of the magnetic dipole axis and the spin axis of a neutron star, the Crab Nebula supernova remnant, and other supernova observations.

Link this page

Would you like to put a link to this lecture on your homepage?
Go ahead! Copy the HTML snippet !

Reviews and comments:

Comment1 Arihant Sogani, October 21, 2008 at 5:53 p.m.:

Helpful in understanding from a different point

Comment2 Andy Kenlien, January 14, 2010 at 6:35 p.m.:

i want your babies.

love your secret lover

Comment3 kiran kumar, February 12, 2010 at 5:24 p.m.:

i am kiran kumar. i want to see this video.

Comment4 K.C.Mishra, November 3, 2014 at 6:02 p.m.:

This is already available in MIT site where subtitle is not displayed but can be downloaded for no use. Here subtitle has been hidden-one cannot download and use it

Comment5 Davor form VideoLectures, December 18, 2017 at 10:29 a.m.:

Hi all!

We have translated this entire course for you from English into 11 languages.

Check this video and give us some feedback in this short survey https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/6DMBC3Q

Write your own review or comment:

make sure you have javascript enabled or clear this field: