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Property of the motion of an object traveling in a circular path. Centripetal describes the force on the object, directed toward the centre of the circle, which causes a constant change in the object's direction and thus its acceleration. The magnitude of centripetal acceleration a is equal to the square of the object's velocity v along the curved path divided by the object's distance r from the centre of the circle, or a = v2/r.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on centripetal acceleration, visit Britannica.com.
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