There is a difference between scalars and vectors. In Physics, a physical quantity that has both direction and magnitude is known as a vector. On the other hand, a scalar has the magnitude only. To draw the vectors, we will have to use a line. The length of the line is its magnitude. On the other hand, the head of the arrow shows its direction. The starting point of a vector is its tail. The endpoint of the vector is its head. There are different types of Vectors in Physics. Here, we will discuss them one by one.
15 Types of Vectors in Physics
Here, we will discuss different types of Vectors in Physics. There are almost 15 types of vectors that we use in Physics.
1. Equal Vectors
Sometimes, we have to use two vectors in Physics. If these two vectors have the same magnitude and direction, they are equal vectors. Anyhow, these two vectors may have different initial points.
2. Negative Vectors
This definition is also relevant to the comparison of two vectors. While comparing two vectors, if you find that these vectors have the same magnitudes but opposite directions, these vectors are negative vectors. For example, if we have a vector B, its negative vector will be –B.
3. Zero Vector or Null Vector
As we have discussed earlier that to represent a vector, we use magnitude and direction. If the magnitude of a vector is zero, it is a null vector or zero vector. To represent the null vector or zero vector, we use the symbol 0. There are various examples of null or zero vectors. The resultant of two equal and opposite vectors is zero or null vector. To represent the velocity of a stationary object, we also use zero or null vector. We also use zero or null vectors to represent the acceleration of a moving object.
4. Unit Vector
A vector is a unit vector if it has a unit magnitude. To represent the unit vector, we use the symbol x̂. We can easily get the unit vector by dividing the vector with its magnitude. Below is the formula to find the unit vector.
x̂ = x/|x|
By using this formula, we can also find out the vector. Below is the formula to find the vector by using a unit vector.
x =|x| x̂
It means that if we multiply the unit vector by its magnitude, we will get the original vector.
5. Orthogonal Unit Vectors
In the Cartesian coordinate system, we use three axes. These three axes are X, Y, and Z. The unit vectors along these axes of the Cartesian coordinate system are orthogonal. We use ‘i’ to represent the unit vector of X-axis. To represent the unit vector of the Y-axis, we use ‘j’. We use ‘k’ to represent the unit vector of the Z-axis.
6. Co-initial Vectors
In some cases, we use the same point to draw two or more than two vectors. If two or more than two vectors have the same starting point, these vectors are co-initial vectors. For example, if we have two vectors AB and AC, these are co-initial vectors. Its reason is that these two vectors have the same starting point ‘A’.
7. Like and Unlike Vectors
As we know that the arrow of a vector determines its direction. For example, we have two vectors. If these two vectors have the same directions, they are like vectors. On the other hand, if these two vectors have opposite directions, they are unlike vectors. This definition is also true for more than two vectors.
8. Coplanar Vectors
To draw the vectors, we require a plane. If three or more than three vectors have the same plane, these are coplanar vectors.
9. Displacement Vector
To describe the displacement between two points, we also use vectors. These vectors are known as displacement vectors. For example, if we have a vector AB, it is a displacement vector. We displace the point of the displacement vector from position A to B.
10. Collinear Vectors
If we have two or more than two vectors and they lie along the same or parallel lines, these vectors are collinear. The collinear vectors have equal or unequal magnitudes.
11. Position Vector
To denote the position of a point with respect to its origin, we use the position vector. For example, OX is a position vector. Here, O is the origin and X is an arbitrary point in the vector.
12. Localized and Non-Localized Vectors
To draw a vector, we have to use an initial point. If a vector has a fixed initial point, it is a localized vector. On the other hand, if the initial point of a vector is not fixed, it is a non-localized vector.
13. Space Vector
In the Cartesian coordinate system, there are three axes. These three axes are X-axis, Y-axis, and Z-axis. If the components of a vector are along these three axes, we call it a space vector.
14. Axial Vectors
The axial vectors are also known as one-dimensional vectors. If a vector is parallel to an axis, it is an axial vector. For example, if you have a vector AB parallel to the x-axis, it is an axial vector parallel to the x-axis. Similarly, you have vectors parallel to the y-axis and z-axis.
15. Plane Vectors
The plane vectors are two-dimensional vectors. If a vector acts in the XY plane, it is a plane vector. Similarly, we have also vectors along the YZ and ZX planes.
These are the most important types of vectors that we use in Physics. As we know that vector is the most important topic in Physics. This article will be helpful for the students to understand this important topic of Physics.