# Parabolic paths in electric fields

## A parabola is the path a thrown ball follows

In an electric field charged particles move in a parabola – the shape a projectile follows. This is because the force always acts in the same direction regardless of the direction the particle is moving in.

Animation explaining why alpha and beta particles follow a parabolic path in an electric field.

## Uniform motion plus acceleration at right angles

We could think about two velocities at right angles to each other.

The left-right velocity is constant because the force acts up-down – in other words at right angles to the direction of motion. The up-down velocity involves a constant acceleration.

Constant velocity in one direction with constant acceleration at right angles to it gives a parabola.