CIE IGCSE Physics

Revision Notes

1.5.4 Circular Motion

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Changing Direction

  • When a force acts at 90 degrees to an object’s direction of travel, the force will cause that object to change direction

 

Change of direction, IGCSE & GCSE Physics revision notes

When the two cars collide, the first car changes its direction in the direction of the force

 

  • If the force continues to act at 90 degrees to the motion, the object will keep changing its direction (whilst remaining at a constant speed) and travel in a circle
  • This is what happens when a planet orbits a star (or satellite orbits a planet)

gravity-&-orbits, IGCSE & GCSE Physics revision notes

The Moon is pulled towards the Earth (at 90 degrees to its direction of travel). This causes it to travel in a circular path

 

  • The force needed to make something follow a circular path depends on a number of factors:
    • The mass of the object (a greater mass requires a greater force)
    • The speed of the object (a faster-moving object requires a greater force)
    • The radius of the circle (a smaller radius requires a greater force)

 

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