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What happens in non-uniform circular motion?

  1. Mar 25, 2013 #1

    Say there's a particle moving with just a radial component of acceleration, this will stay in circular motion because the acceleration is always perpendicular to the velocity. But if you introduce a tangential component of velocity, according to my book the particle stays in circular motion but it's tangential velocity changes. Why does this happen instead of the particle just moving in a path that isn't circular? Like an oval or something, seeing as the net acceleration no longer always points to the same place (centre of a circle).

  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 25, 2013 #2


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    This is true for a very special value of acceleration only.
    You don't have to get a circular motion.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2013
  4. Mar 25, 2013 #3


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    1. IF the acceleration is always perpendicular to the velocity, and non-zero, THEN you have circular motion.
    Basically, as mfb says you, have muddled it.

    2. However: If you make the PREMISE that you have circular motion, then it follows that if the speed is constant, your acceleration is strictly radially directed, but if the speed is non-constant, then you have a non-zero, non-radial acceleration component.
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