Centripetal force

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Centripetal force is a force that is directed perpendicular to the velocity of an object traveling in a circular path towards the center of the circle.[1]

The centripetal force is a required force to maintain a constant speed as the object travels in a circular path. The direction of the force is inward, toward the center of the circular path.

The requirement of a centripetal force for such an object can be satisfied by a gravitational, electromagnetic, or any other type of force.

"Centripetal" is a term derived from the Latin words centrum (meaning "center") and petere (meaning "tend towards").

The equation for centripetal force is:

Where m is the mass of the rotating point mass, r is the radius of the path and omega is the angular velocity (in radians per second).


  1. Wile, Dr. Jay L. Exploring Creation With Physical Science. Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc. 1999, 2000