Centripetal Acceleration Formula

For an object undergoing a circular motion or curvilinear motion experiences, a force directed towards the center of curvature of the path. Here, the velocity of the object may be constant or changing throughout, but the direction of the tangential velocity always changes throughout the motion. Since velocity is a vector quantity, the change in direction changes the velocity. The rate of change of tangential velocity is defined as the centripetal acceleration. Since the centripetal force, responsible for the circular motion of the object acts inwards, the centripetal acceleration also acts inwards, along the radius vector of the circular path.

Formula of Centripetal Acceleration

As mentioned above, the centripetal acceleration is defined as the rate of change of tangential velocity, we can write it as,

Centripetal Acceleration = rate of change of tangential velocity

We can also write it as,

Centripetal Acceleration

The centripetal force acting on an object moving on a circular or curvilinear path is given as,

Centripetal force formula

So, the acceleration acting on the object can be given as,

Acceleration acting in an object

Also, as we know, the tangential acceleration is given as,

Tangential acceleration


  • r is the radius of curvature,
  • α is the angular acceleration and
  • ω is the angular speed.

The total acceleration in a circular path is

Total acceleration in circular path

Real-Life Example

The most common real-life application of the centripetal acceleration and force that you can easily relate to is that of the roller coasters. Unlike the previously used circular loops, the roller coasters are today designed with the teardrop-shaped clothoid loops. Centripetal acceleration is experienced in the clothoid loops.

Solved Examples

Example 1: A plane is circulating around a path of radius 4 km. The speed of the jet is a constant 10 km/s. What is the centripetal acceleration?


Radius of the circular path = 4 km = 4 × 1000 m = 4000 m

Velocity = 10 km/sec = 10 × 1000 m/sec = 10,000 m/sec

Therefore, centripetal acceleration

centripetal acceleration formula

Example 2: A ball has a mass of 0.2 kg. It moves around a circular path of the radius (r) 80 cm. Calculate the centripetal force given that it completes 1 round every 3 seconds.


Mass of the ball = 0.2 kg

Radius of the path = 80 cm = 0.8 m,

Path velocity 

Path velocity

Now, we can calculate the centripetal acceleration by using the formula:

Centripetal acceleration formula 2

Centripetal Force is given by:

Centripetal force

= 0.7008 kgm/s2

From the video learn the concept o centripetal acceleration in detail.

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