Centripetal Force

Written by Jerry Ratzlaff on . Posted in Relativity

Centripetal force is the force that makes an object follow a curved path.  It is abbreviated as Fc and i  s a force generated when an object keeps traveling along a axis of rotation.  An example of of centripetal force is when driving around a corner.  The centripetal force is the reactionary force equal to the centrifugal force felt.  When centripetal force is greater than the centrifugal force, the vehicle will lose traction and slide. 

The most common example of centripetal force is when a body moves with uniform speed along a circular path.  The centripetal force is directed at right angles to the motion and points to the center or the curve.   The equations below and their associated calculator shows two different ways of calculating centripetal force.

Centripetal Force formula

(Eq. 1)  \(\large{ F_c = \frac { m v^2 } { r } }\)

(Eq. 2)  \(\large{ F_c = m a_c }\)


\(\large{ F_c }\) = centripetal force

\(\large{ a_c }\) = centripetal acceleration

\(\large{ m }\) = mass

\(\large{ r }\) = radius of circular path

\(\large{ v }\) = velocity

Solve for:

\(\large{ v = \sqrt   {   \frac { F_c r } { m }   }   }\)

Centripetal Force Drawing



Tags: Equations for Force