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# Uniform circular motion Another specific example of 2D motion

## An object that is traveling in a circular path is moving in two Cartesian

directions (x and y for example) simultaneously.
y
What do you know about an object that is
v

v
a

v
a

v
a

## moving along a circular path?

The radius is constant and the speed is
constant.
Is the object
accelerating?
Yes!
the direction of the velocity changes.
What is the direction of the
acceleration?
The acceleration is directed towards the
center of the circular path. This is called
centripetal acceleration.

v
The centripetal acceleration is what keeps the object moving in a
circular
path.happen to the object moving in a circular path if the
What
would
centripetal acceleration was instantaneously reduced to zero?
The object would move in the direction of the velocity at the instant the
acceleration was reduced to zero. This would result in a straight line path
that is tangent to the circular path at that instant.

## The position of an object will change as it moves

along a circular path. The position vectors are
defined relative to the center of the circular path
for this case.
This will result in a change in position defined by
r. The radius of the path does not change,
therefore r corresponds to a directional change
() only.
The velocity will also change. Since there is no
acceleration along the direction of the velocity you
again have only a directional change ().
Notice that r is in the direction of the velocity
(tangent to the path), v is in the direction of the
acceleration (perpendicular to the path) and since r
and v are perpendicular both change through the
same angle .
Using the definition for arc length we can relate
r to r through . (The arc length will be linear
over a small angular change. Ideally we would be
using the differential form of these quantities.)
We can apply this definition to velocity as well.

r

r0

v0

v0

s r
s - Arc length

r r

v v

## Using the relationship we obtained from an analysis of the position and

velocity vectors we can obtain an expression for the centripetal
acceleration. (This analysis has been simplified and is therefore not the
most accurate method that can be used. We should be using the
differential form of each of these quantities.)

r

r
v

v

r r

v v

a
t

v
v r
r

## v In the limit that t -> 0

v 1
v r
v v2

v
r
r
r
r
t r t

v
a
r

r v

r
v

Centripetal acceleration

Centripetal acceleration is
always directed towards the
center of curvature. (Towards
the center of the circular arc.)

## How long does it take a particle to make one complete revolution?

For circular motion the speed of the particle is constant.

r s

vv
t t

## s is used here to represent the distance along the

path of the particle, also called the arc length
between two points on a curved path.

s r s r

## The arc length is related to the radius of the

circular path and the angular change in position.
(r is constant for a circle.)

r r 0 r r 2
v

0
t t0
t
T
2r
T
v

## = 2 for a complete circle

T is used to represent the period
(time to complete one
revolution).
/T is the angular velocity ()

## This give the time to complete one full revolution

for a specified radius and speed.

## Example: What is the centripetal acceleration of a speck of dust on the

outside edge of a DVD? The DVD has a radius of 6 cm and it takes the
speck of dust 0.29 s to go around once.

Physics
R
Explore the
Universe

2R
T
v

v2
a
R

4 2 0.06m
m
a
28.2 2
2
0.29s
s

2R
v
T

2R

T
a
R

4 2 R

T2

m
a 28.2 2 Towards the center
s

## Circular Motion Using a Radial and Tangential Coordinate System

It is sometimes more convenient to define a new coordinate system when
discussing curvilinear motion.
The radial direction is defined to be positive outward from the center of
curvature.
The tangential direction is defined to be positive in the direction you
measure a positive angle.

## Notice that the unit vector direction

changes as you move along the
circular path.
Centripetal acceleration is often
described using this coordinate
system (or Polar Coordinates).

## The total acceleration of an object using this coordinate system would

contain both radial and tangential components.

In general the acceleration and velocity will have a radial and tangential component.

v vr r vt t

a ar r at t

v
r

## The speed for uniform circular motion

is constant along the tangential
direction.
If the speed is constant there is no
tangential component of the
acceleration, but there is still a radial
component of the acceleration
directed in the negative r direction.
The centripetal acceleration is the
radial component of the acceleration
and will only change the direction of
the velocity.

## If there is a tangential component

of the acceleration it will cause a
change in the magnitude of the
tangential component of the
velocity.

v2
ar
r

dv
at
dt

dv

v
a r
t
r
dt

## The apparatus pictured is positioned on a horizontal surface. A small ball

bearing (in container at lower left of picture) is blown through the spiral
hose, emerging at the right side and moving downward (in the picture),
toward one of the five aluminum tube targets. Which of the targets will it
hit?
1.
2.
3.
4.

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