Tangential and Radial Acceleration

Just because an object moves in a circle, it has a centripetal acceleration ac, directed toward the center. We know this centripetal acceleration is given by

ac = v2 / r

This centripetal acceleration is directed along a radius so it may also be called the radial acceleration ar.

If the speed is not constant, then there is also a tangential acceleration at.

The tangential acceleration is, indeed, tangent to the path of the particle's motion.


Circular Motion

Relative Motion
Return to ToC, Ch4, Two-Dimensional Motion

(c) Doug Davis, 2001; all rights reserved