Necessary Centripetal Force

Any object that moves in a circle requires a force directed towards the center of the circle to keep it moving in a circle. This force is known as the centripetal force. For example,

  • The earth moves around the sun because of gravitational force.
  • A roller coaster can move in a circular loop because of normal reaction exerted by the tracks on the car.
  • A race car can move in circular track because of friction between the wheels and the ground.

In these examples, the necessary centripetal force is provided by gravitational force, normal reaction, and frictional force respectively.

As a top spins, its center moves in a circle around a vertical axis. Which force provides the necessary centripetal force for it to move in a circle?


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