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College Physics for AP® Courses

25.7 Image Formation by Mirrors

College Physics for AP® Courses25.7 Image Formation by Mirrors
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  1. Preface
  2. 1 Introduction: The Nature of Science and Physics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 1.1 Physics: An Introduction
    3. 1.2 Physical Quantities and Units
    4. 1.3 Accuracy, Precision, and Significant Figures
    5. 1.4 Approximation
    6. Glossary
    7. Section Summary
    8. Conceptual Questions
    9. Problems & Exercises
  3. 2 Kinematics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 2.1 Displacement
    3. 2.2 Vectors, Scalars, and Coordinate Systems
    4. 2.3 Time, Velocity, and Speed
    5. 2.4 Acceleration
    6. 2.5 Motion Equations for Constant Acceleration in One Dimension
    7. 2.6 Problem-Solving Basics for One Dimensional Kinematics
    8. 2.7 Falling Objects
    9. 2.8 Graphical Analysis of One Dimensional Motion
    10. Glossary
    11. Section Summary
    12. Conceptual Questions
    13. Problems & Exercises
    14. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  4. 3 Two-Dimensional Kinematics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 3.1 Kinematics in Two Dimensions: An Introduction
    3. 3.2 Vector Addition and Subtraction: Graphical Methods
    4. 3.3 Vector Addition and Subtraction: Analytical Methods
    5. 3.4 Projectile Motion
    6. 3.5 Addition of Velocities
    7. Glossary
    8. Section Summary
    9. Conceptual Questions
    10. Problems & Exercises
    11. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  5. 4 Dynamics: Force and Newton's Laws of Motion
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 4.1 Development of Force Concept
    3. 4.2 Newton's First Law of Motion: Inertia
    4. 4.3 Newton's Second Law of Motion: Concept of a System
    5. 4.4 Newton's Third Law of Motion: Symmetry in Forces
    6. 4.5 Normal, Tension, and Other Examples of Force
    7. 4.6 Problem-Solving Strategies
    8. 4.7 Further Applications of Newton's Laws of Motion
    9. 4.8 Extended Topic: The Four Basic Forces—An Introduction
    10. Glossary
    11. Section Summary
    12. Conceptual Questions
    13. Problems & Exercises
    14. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  6. 5 Further Applications of Newton's Laws: Friction, Drag, and Elasticity
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 5.1 Friction
    3. 5.2 Drag Forces
    4. 5.3 Elasticity: Stress and Strain
    5. Glossary
    6. Section Summary
    7. Conceptual Questions
    8. Problems & Exercises
    9. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  7. 6 Gravitation and Uniform Circular Motion
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 6.1 Rotation Angle and Angular Velocity
    3. 6.2 Centripetal Acceleration
    4. 6.3 Centripetal Force
    5. 6.4 Fictitious Forces and Non-inertial Frames: The Coriolis Force
    6. 6.5 Newton's Universal Law of Gravitation
    7. 6.6 Satellites and Kepler's Laws: An Argument for Simplicity
    8. Glossary
    9. Section Summary
    10. Conceptual Questions
    11. Problems & Exercises
    12. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  8. 7 Work, Energy, and Energy Resources
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 7.1 Work: The Scientific Definition
    3. 7.2 Kinetic Energy and the Work-Energy Theorem
    4. 7.3 Gravitational Potential Energy
    5. 7.4 Conservative Forces and Potential Energy
    6. 7.5 Nonconservative Forces
    7. 7.6 Conservation of Energy
    8. 7.7 Power
    9. 7.8 Work, Energy, and Power in Humans
    10. 7.9 World Energy Use
    11. Glossary
    12. Section Summary
    13. Conceptual Questions
    14. Problems & Exercises
    15. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  9. 8 Linear Momentum and Collisions
    1. Connection for AP® courses
    2. 8.1 Linear Momentum and Force
    3. 8.2 Impulse
    4. 8.3 Conservation of Momentum
    5. 8.4 Elastic Collisions in One Dimension
    6. 8.5 Inelastic Collisions in One Dimension
    7. 8.6 Collisions of Point Masses in Two Dimensions
    8. 8.7 Introduction to Rocket Propulsion
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  10. 9 Statics and Torque
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 9.1 The First Condition for Equilibrium
    3. 9.2 The Second Condition for Equilibrium
    4. 9.3 Stability
    5. 9.4 Applications of Statics, Including Problem-Solving Strategies
    6. 9.5 Simple Machines
    7. 9.6 Forces and Torques in Muscles and Joints
    8. Glossary
    9. Section Summary
    10. Conceptual Questions
    11. Problems & Exercises
    12. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  11. 10 Rotational Motion and Angular Momentum
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 10.1 Angular Acceleration
    3. 10.2 Kinematics of Rotational Motion
    4. 10.3 Dynamics of Rotational Motion: Rotational Inertia
    5. 10.4 Rotational Kinetic Energy: Work and Energy Revisited
    6. 10.5 Angular Momentum and Its Conservation
    7. 10.6 Collisions of Extended Bodies in Two Dimensions
    8. 10.7 Gyroscopic Effects: Vector Aspects of Angular Momentum
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  12. 11 Fluid Statics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 11.1 What Is a Fluid?
    3. 11.2 Density
    4. 11.3 Pressure
    5. 11.4 Variation of Pressure with Depth in a Fluid
    6. 11.5 Pascal’s Principle
    7. 11.6 Gauge Pressure, Absolute Pressure, and Pressure Measurement
    8. 11.7 Archimedes’ Principle
    9. 11.8 Cohesion and Adhesion in Liquids: Surface Tension and Capillary Action
    10. 11.9 Pressures in the Body
    11. Glossary
    12. Section Summary
    13. Conceptual Questions
    14. Problems & Exercises
    15. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  13. 12 Fluid Dynamics and Its Biological and Medical Applications
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 12.1 Flow Rate and Its Relation to Velocity
    3. 12.2 Bernoulli’s Equation
    4. 12.3 The Most General Applications of Bernoulli’s Equation
    5. 12.4 Viscosity and Laminar Flow; Poiseuille’s Law
    6. 12.5 The Onset of Turbulence
    7. 12.6 Motion of an Object in a Viscous Fluid
    8. 12.7 Molecular Transport Phenomena: Diffusion, Osmosis, and Related Processes
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  14. 13 Temperature, Kinetic Theory, and the Gas Laws
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 13.1 Temperature
    3. 13.2 Thermal Expansion of Solids and Liquids
    4. 13.3 The Ideal Gas Law
    5. 13.4 Kinetic Theory: Atomic and Molecular Explanation of Pressure and Temperature
    6. 13.5 Phase Changes
    7. 13.6 Humidity, Evaporation, and Boiling
    8. Glossary
    9. Section Summary
    10. Conceptual Questions
    11. Problems & Exercises
    12. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  15. 14 Heat and Heat Transfer Methods
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 14.1 Heat
    3. 14.2 Temperature Change and Heat Capacity
    4. 14.3 Phase Change and Latent Heat
    5. 14.4 Heat Transfer Methods
    6. 14.5 Conduction
    7. 14.6 Convection
    8. 14.7 Radiation
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  16. 15 Thermodynamics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 15.1 The First Law of Thermodynamics
    3. 15.2 The First Law of Thermodynamics and Some Simple Processes
    4. 15.3 Introduction to the Second Law of Thermodynamics: Heat Engines and Their Efficiency
    5. 15.4 Carnot’s Perfect Heat Engine: The Second Law of Thermodynamics Restated
    6. 15.5 Applications of Thermodynamics: Heat Pumps and Refrigerators
    7. 15.6 Entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics: Disorder and the Unavailability of Energy
    8. 15.7 Statistical Interpretation of Entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics: The Underlying Explanation
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  17. 16 Oscillatory Motion and Waves
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 16.1 Hooke’s Law: Stress and Strain Revisited
    3. 16.2 Period and Frequency in Oscillations
    4. 16.3 Simple Harmonic Motion: A Special Periodic Motion
    5. 16.4 The Simple Pendulum
    6. 16.5 Energy and the Simple Harmonic Oscillator
    7. 16.6 Uniform Circular Motion and Simple Harmonic Motion
    8. 16.7 Damped Harmonic Motion
    9. 16.8 Forced Oscillations and Resonance
    10. 16.9 Waves
    11. 16.10 Superposition and Interference
    12. 16.11 Energy in Waves: Intensity
    13. Glossary
    14. Section Summary
    15. Conceptual Questions
    16. Problems & Exercises
    17. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  18. 17 Physics of Hearing
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 17.1 Sound
    3. 17.2 Speed of Sound, Frequency, and Wavelength
    4. 17.3 Sound Intensity and Sound Level
    5. 17.4 Doppler Effect and Sonic Booms
    6. 17.5 Sound Interference and Resonance: Standing Waves in Air Columns
    7. 17.6 Hearing
    8. 17.7 Ultrasound
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  19. 18 Electric Charge and Electric Field
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 18.1 Static Electricity and Charge: Conservation of Charge
    3. 18.2 Conductors and Insulators
    4. 18.3 Conductors and Electric Fields in Static Equilibrium
    5. 18.4 Coulomb’s Law
    6. 18.5 Electric Field: Concept of a Field Revisited
    7. 18.6 Electric Field Lines: Multiple Charges
    8. 18.7 Electric Forces in Biology
    9. 18.8 Applications of Electrostatics
    10. Glossary
    11. Section Summary
    12. Conceptual Questions
    13. Problems & Exercises
    14. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  20. 19 Electric Potential and Electric Field
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 19.1 Electric Potential Energy: Potential Difference
    3. 19.2 Electric Potential in a Uniform Electric Field
    4. 19.3 Electrical Potential Due to a Point Charge
    5. 19.4 Equipotential Lines
    6. 19.5 Capacitors and Dielectrics
    7. 19.6 Capacitors in Series and Parallel
    8. 19.7 Energy Stored in Capacitors
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  21. 20 Electric Current, Resistance, and Ohm's Law
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 20.1 Current
    3. 20.2 Ohm’s Law: Resistance and Simple Circuits
    4. 20.3 Resistance and Resistivity
    5. 20.4 Electric Power and Energy
    6. 20.5 Alternating Current versus Direct Current
    7. 20.6 Electric Hazards and the Human Body
    8. 20.7 Nerve Conduction–Electrocardiograms
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  22. 21 Circuits, Bioelectricity, and DC Instruments
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 21.1 Resistors in Series and Parallel
    3. 21.2 Electromotive Force: Terminal Voltage
    4. 21.3 Kirchhoff’s Rules
    5. 21.4 DC Voltmeters and Ammeters
    6. 21.5 Null Measurements
    7. 21.6 DC Circuits Containing Resistors and Capacitors
    8. Glossary
    9. Section Summary
    10. Conceptual Questions
    11. Problems & Exercises
    12. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  23. 22 Magnetism
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 22.1 Magnets
    3. 22.2 Ferromagnets and Electromagnets
    4. 22.3 Magnetic Fields and Magnetic Field Lines
    5. 22.4 Magnetic Field Strength: Force on a Moving Charge in a Magnetic Field
    6. 22.5 Force on a Moving Charge in a Magnetic Field: Examples and Applications
    7. 22.6 The Hall Effect
    8. 22.7 Magnetic Force on a Current-Carrying Conductor
    9. 22.8 Torque on a Current Loop: Motors and Meters
    10. 22.9 Magnetic Fields Produced by Currents: Ampere’s Law
    11. 22.10 Magnetic Force between Two Parallel Conductors
    12. 22.11 More Applications of Magnetism
    13. Glossary
    14. Section Summary
    15. Conceptual Questions
    16. Problems & Exercises
    17. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  24. 23 Electromagnetic Induction, AC Circuits, and Electrical Technologies
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 23.1 Induced Emf and Magnetic Flux
    3. 23.2 Faraday’s Law of Induction: Lenz’s Law
    4. 23.3 Motional Emf
    5. 23.4 Eddy Currents and Magnetic Damping
    6. 23.5 Electric Generators
    7. 23.6 Back Emf
    8. 23.7 Transformers
    9. 23.8 Electrical Safety: Systems and Devices
    10. 23.9 Inductance
    11. 23.10 RL Circuits
    12. 23.11 Reactance, Inductive and Capacitive
    13. 23.12 RLC Series AC Circuits
    14. Glossary
    15. Section Summary
    16. Conceptual Questions
    17. Problems & Exercises
    18. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  25. 24 Electromagnetic Waves
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 24.1 Maxwell’s Equations: Electromagnetic Waves Predicted and Observed
    3. 24.2 Production of Electromagnetic Waves
    4. 24.3 The Electromagnetic Spectrum
    5. 24.4 Energy in Electromagnetic Waves
    6. Glossary
    7. Section Summary
    8. Conceptual Questions
    9. Problems & Exercises
    10. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  26. 25 Geometric Optics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 25.1 The Ray Aspect of Light
    3. 25.2 The Law of Reflection
    4. 25.3 The Law of Refraction
    5. 25.4 Total Internal Reflection
    6. 25.5 Dispersion: The Rainbow and Prisms
    7. 25.6 Image Formation by Lenses
    8. 25.7 Image Formation by Mirrors
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  27. 26 Vision and Optical Instruments
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 26.1 Physics of the Eye
    3. 26.2 Vision Correction
    4. 26.3 Color and Color Vision
    5. 26.4 Microscopes
    6. 26.5 Telescopes
    7. 26.6 Aberrations
    8. Glossary
    9. Section Summary
    10. Conceptual Questions
    11. Problems & Exercises
    12. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  28. 27 Wave Optics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 27.1 The Wave Aspect of Light: Interference
    3. 27.2 Huygens's Principle: Diffraction
    4. 27.3 Young’s Double Slit Experiment
    5. 27.4 Multiple Slit Diffraction
    6. 27.5 Single Slit Diffraction
    7. 27.6 Limits of Resolution: The Rayleigh Criterion
    8. 27.7 Thin Film Interference
    9. 27.8 Polarization
    10. 27.9 *Extended Topic* Microscopy Enhanced by the Wave Characteristics of Light
    11. Glossary
    12. Section Summary
    13. Conceptual Questions
    14. Problems & Exercises
    15. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  29. 28 Special Relativity
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 28.1 Einstein’s Postulates
    3. 28.2 Simultaneity And Time Dilation
    4. 28.3 Length Contraction
    5. 28.4 Relativistic Addition of Velocities
    6. 28.5 Relativistic Momentum
    7. 28.6 Relativistic Energy
    8. Glossary
    9. Section Summary
    10. Conceptual Questions
    11. Problems & Exercises
    12. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  30. 29 Introduction to Quantum Physics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 29.1 Quantization of Energy
    3. 29.2 The Photoelectric Effect
    4. 29.3 Photon Energies and the Electromagnetic Spectrum
    5. 29.4 Photon Momentum
    6. 29.5 The Particle-Wave Duality
    7. 29.6 The Wave Nature of Matter
    8. 29.7 Probability: The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
    9. 29.8 The Particle-Wave Duality Reviewed
    10. Glossary
    11. Section Summary
    12. Conceptual Questions
    13. Problems & Exercises
    14. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  31. 30 Atomic Physics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 30.1 Discovery of the Atom
    3. 30.2 Discovery of the Parts of the Atom: Electrons and Nuclei
    4. 30.3 Bohr’s Theory of the Hydrogen Atom
    5. 30.4 X Rays: Atomic Origins and Applications
    6. 30.5 Applications of Atomic Excitations and De-Excitations
    7. 30.6 The Wave Nature of Matter Causes Quantization
    8. 30.7 Patterns in Spectra Reveal More Quantization
    9. 30.8 Quantum Numbers and Rules
    10. 30.9 The Pauli Exclusion Principle
    11. Glossary
    12. Section Summary
    13. Conceptual Questions
    14. Problems & Exercises
    15. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  32. 31 Radioactivity and Nuclear Physics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 31.1 Nuclear Radioactivity
    3. 31.2 Radiation Detection and Detectors
    4. 31.3 Substructure of the Nucleus
    5. 31.4 Nuclear Decay and Conservation Laws
    6. 31.5 Half-Life and Activity
    7. 31.6 Binding Energy
    8. 31.7 Tunneling
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  33. 32 Medical Applications of Nuclear Physics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 32.1 Medical Imaging and Diagnostics
    3. 32.2 Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation
    4. 32.3 Therapeutic Uses of Ionizing Radiation
    5. 32.4 Food Irradiation
    6. 32.5 Fusion
    7. 32.6 Fission
    8. 32.7 Nuclear Weapons
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  34. 33 Particle Physics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 33.1 The Yukawa Particle and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle Revisited
    3. 33.2 The Four Basic Forces
    4. 33.3 Accelerators Create Matter from Energy
    5. 33.4 Particles, Patterns, and Conservation Laws
    6. 33.5 Quarks: Is That All There Is?
    7. 33.6 GUTs: The Unification of Forces
    8. Glossary
    9. Section Summary
    10. Conceptual Questions
    11. Problems & Exercises
    12. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  35. 34 Frontiers of Physics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 34.1 Cosmology and Particle Physics
    3. 34.2 General Relativity and Quantum Gravity
    4. 34.3 Superstrings
    5. 34.4 Dark Matter and Closure
    6. 34.5 Complexity and Chaos
    7. 34.6 High-Temperature Superconductors
    8. 34.7 Some Questions We Know to Ask
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
  36. A | Atomic Masses
  37. B | Selected Radioactive Isotopes
  38. C | Useful Information
  39. D | Glossary of Key Symbols and Notation
  40. Answer Key
    1. Chapter 1
    2. Chapter 2
    3. Chapter 3
    4. Chapter 4
    5. Chapter 5
    6. Chapter 6
    7. Chapter 7
    8. Chapter 8
    9. Chapter 9
    10. Chapter 10
    11. Chapter 11
    12. Chapter 12
    13. Chapter 13
    14. Chapter 14
    15. Chapter 15
    16. Chapter 16
    17. Chapter 17
    18. Chapter 18
    19. Chapter 19
    20. Chapter 20
    21. Chapter 21
    22. Chapter 22
    23. Chapter 23
    24. Chapter 24
    25. Chapter 25
    26. Chapter 26
    27. Chapter 27
    28. Chapter 28
    29. Chapter 29
    30. Chapter 30
    31. Chapter 31
    32. Chapter 32
    33. Chapter 33
    34. Chapter 34
  41. Index

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Illustrate image formation in a flat mirror.
  • Explain with ray diagrams the formation of an image using spherical mirrors.
  • Determine focal length and magnification given radius of curvature, distance of object, and distance of image.

The information presented in this section supports the following AP® learning objectives and science practices:

  • 6.E.4.1 The student is able to plan data collection strategies and perform data analysis and evaluation of evidence about the formation of images due to reflection of light from curved spherical mirrors. (S.P. 3.2, 4.1, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3)
  • 6.E.4.2 The student is able to use quantitative and qualitative representations and models to analyze situations and solve problems about image formation occurring due to the reflection of light from surfaces. (S.P. 1.4, 2.2)

We only have to look as far as the nearest bathroom to find an example of an image formed by a mirror. Images in flat mirrors are the same size as the object and are located behind the mirror. Like lenses, mirrors can form a variety of images. For example, dental mirrors may produce a magnified image, just as makeup mirrors do. Security mirrors in shops, on the other hand, form images that are smaller than the object. We will use the law of reflection to understand how mirrors form images, and we will find that mirror images are analogous to those formed by lenses.

Figure 25.39 helps illustrate how a flat mirror forms an image. Two rays are shown emerging from the same point, striking the mirror, and being reflected into the observer’s eye. The rays can diverge slightly, and both still get into the eye. If the rays are extrapolated backward, they seem to originate from a common point behind the mirror, locating the image. (The paths of the reflected rays into the eye are the same as if they had come directly from that point behind the mirror.) Using the law of reflection—the angle of reflection equals the angle of incidence—we can see that the image and object are the same distance from the mirror. This is a virtual image, since it cannot be projected—the rays only appear to originate from a common point behind the mirror. Obviously, if you walk behind the mirror, you cannot see the image, since the rays do not go there. But in front of the mirror, the rays behave exactly as if they had come from behind the mirror, so that is where the image is situated.

A bottle at a distance d sub o from a flat mirror. An observer’s eye looks into the mirror and finds the image at d sub I behind the mirror. The incident rays fall onto the mirror and get reflected to the eye. The dotted lines represent reflected rays extrapolated backward and produce an image of the same size.
Figure 25.39 Two sets of rays from common points on an object are reflected by a flat mirror into the eye of an observer. The reflected rays seem to originate from behind the mirror, locating the virtual image.

Now let us consider the focal length of a mirror—for example, the concave spherical mirrors in Figure 25.40. Rays of light that strike the surface follow the law of reflection. For a mirror that is large compared with its radius of curvature, as in Figure 25.40(a), we see that the reflected rays do not cross at the same point, and the mirror does not have a well-defined focal point. If the mirror had the shape of a parabola, the rays would all cross at a single point, and the mirror would have a well-defined focal point. But parabolic mirrors are much more expensive to make than spherical mirrors. The solution is to use a mirror that is small compared with its radius of curvature, as shown in Figure 25.40(b). (This is the mirror equivalent of the thin lens approximation.) To a very good approximation, this mirror has a well-defined focal point at F that is the focal distance ff size 12{f} {} from the center of the mirror. The focal length ff size 12{f} {} of a concave mirror is positive, since it is a converging mirror.

Figure (a) shows a large concave spherical mirror. A beam of parallel rays is incident on the mirror; after reflection it converges at F. Figure (b) shows a concave mirror that is small when compared to its radius of curvature. A beam of parallel rays is incident on the mirror; after reflection it converges at F on the same side. The middle rays of the parallel beam are 1,2, and 3. The distance of F on ray 2 from the center of the mirror is its focal length small f.
Figure 25.40 (a) Parallel rays reflected from a large spherical mirror do not all cross at a common point. (b) If a spherical mirror is small compared with its radius of curvature, parallel rays are focused to a common point. The distance of the focal point from the center of the mirror is its focal length ff size 12{f} {}. Since this mirror is converging, it has a positive focal length.

Just as for lenses, the shorter the focal length, the more powerful the mirror; thus, P=1/fP=1/f size 12{P=1/f} {} for a mirror, too. A more strongly curved mirror has a shorter focal length and a greater power. Using the law of reflection and some simple trigonometry, it can be shown that the focal length is half the radius of curvature, or

f=R2,f=R2, size 12{f= { {R} over {2} } } {}
25.45

where RR size 12{R} {} is the radius of curvature of a spherical mirror. The smaller the radius of curvature, the smaller the focal length and, thus, the more powerful the mirror.

The convex mirror shown in Figure 25.41 also has a focal point. Parallel rays of light reflected from the mirror seem to originate from the point F at the focal distance ff size 12{f} {} behind the mirror. The focal length and power of a convex mirror are negative, since it is a diverging mirror.

A convex spherical mirror. A beam of parallel rays incident on the mirror, after reflection, appear to come from F on ray 2 behind the mirror. Here the distance of
Figure 25.41 Parallel rays of light reflected from a convex spherical mirror (small in size compared with its radius of curvature) seem to originate from a well-defined focal point at the focal distance ff size 12{f} {} behind the mirror. Convex mirrors diverge light rays and, thus, have a negative focal length.

Ray tracing is as useful for mirrors as for lenses. The rules for ray tracing for mirrors are based on the illustrations just discussed:

  1. A ray approaching a concave converging mirror parallel to its axis is reflected through the focal point F of the mirror on the same side. (See rays 1 and 3 in Figure 25.40(b).)
  2. A ray approaching a convex diverging mirror parallel to its axis is reflected so that it seems to come from the focal point F behind the mirror. (See rays 1 and 3 in Figure 25.41.)
  3. Any ray striking the center of a mirror is followed by applying the law of reflection; it makes the same angle with the axis when leaving as when approaching. (See ray 2 in Figure 25.42.)
  4. A ray approaching a concave converging mirror through its focal point is reflected parallel to its axis. (The reverse of rays 1 and 3 in Figure 25.40.)
  5. A ray approaching a convex diverging mirror by heading toward its focal point on the opposite side is reflected parallel to the axis. (The reverse of rays 1 and 3 in Figure 25.41.)

We will use ray tracing to illustrate how images are formed by mirrors, and we can use ray tracing quantitatively to obtain numerical information. But since we assume each mirror is small compared with its radius of curvature, we can use the thin lens equations for mirrors just as we did for lenses.

Consider the situation shown in Figure 25.42, concave spherical mirror reflection, in which an object is placed farther from a concave (converging) mirror than its focal length. That is, ff size 12{f} {} is positive and dodo size 12{d rSub { size 8{o} } } {} > ff size 12{f} {}, so that we may expect an image similar to the case 1 real image formed by a converging lens. Ray tracing in Figure 25.42 shows that the rays from a common point on the object all cross at a point on the same side of the mirror as the object. Thus a real image can be projected onto a screen placed at this location. The image distance is positive, and the image is inverted, so its magnification is negative. This is a case 1 image for mirrors. It differs from the case 1 image for lenses only in that the image is on the same side of the mirror as the object. It is otherwise identical.

Three incident rays, 1, 2, and 3, falling on a concave mirror. Ray 1 falls parallel, ray 2 falls making an angle with the axis and ray 3 passes through focal point F. These rays after reflection converge at a point below the axis. The image is inverted and enlarged and falls below the axis on the same side as the object. Here, the distance from the center of the mirror to F is the focal distance small f, distances of the object and the image from the mirror are d sub o and d sub I, respectively. The heights of the object and the image are h sub o and h sub I, respectively.
Figure 25.42 A case 1 image for a mirror. An object is farther from the converging mirror than its focal length. Rays from a common point on the object are traced using the rules in the text. Ray 1 approaches parallel to the axis, ray 2 strikes the center of the mirror, and ray 3 goes through the focal point on the way toward the mirror. All three rays cross at the same point after being reflected, locating the inverted real image. Although three rays are shown, only two of the three are needed to locate the image and determine its height.

Example 25.9 A Concave Reflector

Electric room heaters use a concave mirror to reflect infrared (IR) radiation from hot coils. Note that IR follows the same law of reflection as visible light. Given that the mirror has a radius of curvature of 50.0 cm and produces an image of the coils 3.00 m away from the mirror, where are the coils?

Strategy and Concept

We are given that the concave mirror projects a real image of the coils at an image distance di=3.00 mdi=3.00 m. The coils are the object, and we are asked to find their location—that is, to find the object distance dodo. We are also given the radius of curvature of the mirror, so that its focal length is f=R/2=25.0 cmf=R/2=25.0 cm (positive since the mirror is concave or converging). Assuming the mirror is small compared with its radius of curvature, we can use the thin lens equations, to solve this problem.

Solution

Since didi size 12{d rSub { size 8{i} } } {} and ff size 12{f} {} are known, thin lens equation can be used to find dodo size 12{d rSub { size 8{o} } } {}:

1do+1di=1f.1do+1di=1f. size 12{ { {1} over {d rSub { size 8{o} } } } + { {1} over {d rSub { size 8{i} } } } = { {1} over {f} } } {}
25.46

Rearranging to isolate dodo size 12{d rSub { size 8{o} } } {} gives

1do=1f1di.1do=1f1di. size 12{ { {1} over {d rSub { size 8{o} } } } = { {1} over {f} } - { {1} over {d rSub { size 8{i} } } } } {}
25.47

Entering known quantities gives a value for 1/do1/do size 12{d rSub { size 8{o} } } {}:

1do=10.250 m13.00 m=3.667m.1do=10.250 m13.00 m=3.667m. size 12{ { {1} over {d rSub { size 8{o} } } } = { {1} over {0 "." "250"" m"} } - { {1} over {3 "." "00"" m"} } = { {3 "." "667"} over {m} } } {}
25.48

This must be inverted to find dodo size 12{d rSub { size 8{o} } } {}:

do=1 m3.667=27.3 cm.do=1 m3.667=27.3 cm. size 12{d rSub { size 8{o} } = { {"1 m"} over {3 "." "667"} } ="27" "." 3" cm"} {}
25.49

Discussion

Note that the object (the filament) is farther from the mirror than the mirror’s focal length. This is a case 1 image (do>fdo>f and ff positive), consistent with the fact that a real image is formed. You will get the most concentrated thermal energy directly in front of the mirror and 3.00 m away from it. Generally, this is not desirable, since it could cause burns. Usually, you want the rays to emerge parallel, and this is accomplished by having the filament at the focal point of the mirror.

Note that the filament here is not much farther from the mirror than its focal length and that the image produced is considerably farther away. This is exactly analogous to a slide projector. Placing a slide only slightly farther away from the projector lens than its focal length produces an image significantly farther away. As the object gets closer to the focal distance, the image gets farther away. In fact, as the object distance approaches the focal length, the image distance approaches infinity and the rays are sent out parallel to one another.

Example 25.10 Solar Electric Generating System

One of the solar technologies used today for generating electricity is a device (called a parabolic trough or concentrating collector) that concentrates the sunlight onto a blackened pipe that contains a fluid. This heated fluid is pumped to a heat exchanger, where its heat energy is transferred to another system that is used to generate steam—and so generate electricity through a conventional steam cycle. Figure 25.43 shows such a working system in southern California. Concave mirrors are used to concentrate the sunlight onto the pipe. The mirror has the approximate shape of a section of a cylinder. For the problem, assume that the mirror is exactly one-quarter of a full cylinder.

  1. If we wish to place the fluid-carrying pipe 40.0 cm from the concave mirror at the mirror’s focal point, what will be the radius of curvature of the mirror?
  2. Per meter of pipe, what will be the amount of sunlight concentrated onto the pipe, assuming the insolation (incident solar radiation) is 0.900 k W/m20.900 k W/m2 size 12{"0.900"" W/m" rSup { size 8{2} } } {}?
  3. If the fluid-carrying pipe has a 2.00-cm diameter, what will be the temperature increase of the fluid per meter of pipe over a period of one minute? Assume all the solar radiation incident on the reflector is absorbed by the pipe, and that the fluid is mineral oil.

Strategy

To solve an Integrated Concept Problem we must first identify the physical principles involved. Part (a) is related to the current topic. Part (b) involves a little math, primarily geometry. Part (c) requires an understanding of heat and density.

Solution to (a)

To a good approximation for a concave or semi-spherical surface, the point where the parallel rays from the sun converge will be at the focal point, so R=2f=80.0 cmR=2f=80.0 cm size 12{R=2f="80"" cm"} {}.

Solution to (b)

The insolation is 900 W /m2900 W /m2 size 12{"900"" W/m" rSup { size 8{2} } } {}. We must find the cross-sectional area AA of the concave mirror, since the power delivered is 900 W /m2×A900 W /m2×A. The mirror in this case is a quarter-section of a cylinder, so the area for a length LL of the mirror is A=14(2πR)LA=14(2πR)L. The area for a length of 1.00 m is then

A=π2R(1.00 m)=(3.14)2(0.800 m)(1.00 m)=1.26m2 .A=π2R(1.00 m)=(3.14)2(0.800 m)(1.00 m)=1.26m2 .
25.50

The insolation on the 1.00-m length of pipe is then

(9.00×102Wm2)(1.26m2)=1130 W.(9.00×102Wm2)(1.26m2)=1130 W.
25.51

Solution to (c)

The increase in temperature is given by Q=mcΔTQ=mcΔT size 12{Q=mcDT} {}. The mass mm size 12{m} {} of the mineral oil in the one-meter section of pipe is

m = ρ V= ρπ ( d2 ) 2 (1.00 m) = ( 8.00×102 kg/m3 ) (3.14) (0.0100 m)2 (1.00 m) = 0.251 kg. m = ρ V= ρπ ( d2 ) 2 (1.00 m) = ( 8.00×102 kg/m3 ) (3.14) (0.0100 m)2 (1.00 m) = 0.251 kg.
25.52

Therefore, the increase in temperature in one minute is

ΔT = Q/mc = (1130 W)(60.0 s) (0.251 kg)(1670 J·kg/ºC) = 162ºC . ΔT = Q/mc = (1130 W)(60.0 s) (0.251 kg)(1670 J·kg/ºC) = 162ºC .
25.53

Discussion for (c)

An array of such pipes in the California desert can provide a thermal output of 250 MW on a sunny day, with fluids reaching temperatures as high as 400ºC400ºC size 12{"400"°C} {}. We are considering only one meter of pipe here, and ignoring heat losses along the pipe.

A parabolic trough solar thermal electric power plant located at Kramer Junction, California
Figure 25.43 Parabolic trough collectors are used to generate electricity in southern California. (credit: kjkolb, Wikimedia Commons)

What happens if an object is closer to a concave mirror than its focal length? This is analogous to a case 2 image for lenses ( do <f do <f and ff size 12{f} {} positive), which is a magnifier. In fact, this is how makeup mirrors act as magnifiers. Figure 25.44(a) uses ray tracing to locate the image of an object placed close to a concave mirror. Rays from a common point on the object are reflected in such a manner that they appear to be coming from behind the mirror, meaning that the image is virtual and cannot be projected. As with a magnifying glass, the image is upright and larger than the object. This is a case 2 image for mirrors and is exactly analogous to that for lenses.

Figure (a) shows three incident rays, 1, 2, and 3, falling on a concave mirror. Ray 1 falls parallel, ray 2 falls making an angle with the axis, and ray 3 is from focal point F. These rays after reflection appear to come from a point above the axis. The image is erect and enlarged, and falls above the axis behind the mirror. Here, the distance from the center of the mirror to F is focal length small f, distances of the object and the image from the mirror are d sub o  and d sub I, respectively. The heights of the object and the image are h sub o and h sub i, respectively. Figure (b) shows a woman applying makeup looking into her magnified reflection in the concave mirror.
Figure 25.44 (a) Case 2 images for mirrors are formed when a converging mirror has an object closer to it than its focal length. Ray 1 approaches parallel to the axis, ray 2 strikes the center of the mirror, and ray 3 approaches the mirror as if it came from the focal point. (b) A magnifying mirror showing the reflection. (credit: Mike Melrose, Flickr)

All three rays appear to originate from the same point after being reflected, locating the upright virtual image behind the mirror and showing it to be larger than the object. (b) Makeup mirrors are perhaps the most common use of a concave mirror to produce a larger, upright image.

A convex mirror is a diverging mirror (ff size 12{f} {} is negative) and forms only one type of image. It is a case 3 image—one that is upright and smaller than the object, just as for diverging lenses. Figure 25.45(a) uses ray tracing to illustrate the location and size of the case 3 image for mirrors. Since the image is behind the mirror, it cannot be projected and is thus a virtual image. It is also seen to be smaller than the object.

Figure (a) shows three incident rays, 1, 2, and 3, falling on a convex mirror. Ray 1 falls parallel, ray 2 falls making an angle with the axis, and ray 3 falls obliquely. These rays after reflection appear to come from a point above the axis. The image is erect and diminished and falls above the axis behind the mirror. Here, the distance from the center of the mirror to focal point F is the focal length small f behind the mirror; the distances of the object and the image from the mirror are d sub o and d sub I, respectively. The heights of the object and the image are h sub o and h sub I, respectively. Figure (b) shows an image of a apparel and clothing show room as viewed in a convex mirror; the image appears to be small in size.
Figure 25.45 Case 3 images for mirrors are formed by any convex mirror. Ray 1 approaches parallel to the axis, ray 2 strikes the center of the mirror, and ray 3 approaches toward the focal point. All three rays appear to originate from the same point after being reflected, locating the upright virtual image behind the mirror and showing it to be smaller than the object. (b) Security mirrors are convex, producing a smaller, upright image. Because the image is smaller, a larger area is imaged compared to what would be observed for a flat mirror (and hence security is improved). (credit: Laura D’Alessandro, Flickr)

Example 25.11 Image in a Convex Mirror

A keratometer is a device used to measure the curvature of the cornea, particularly for fitting contact lenses. Light is reflected from the cornea, which acts like a convex mirror, and the keratometer measures the magnification of the image. The smaller the magnification, the smaller the radius of curvature of the cornea. If the light source is 12.0 cm from the cornea and the image’s magnification is 0.0320, what is the cornea’s radius of curvature?

Strategy

If we can find the focal length of the convex mirror formed by the cornea, we can find its radius of curvature (the radius of curvature is twice the focal length of a spherical mirror). We are given that the object distance is do=12.0 cmdo=12.0 cm and that m=0.0320m=0.0320. We first solve for the image distance didi, and then for ff size 12{f} {}.

Solution

m=–di/dom=–di/do. Solving this expression for didi gives

di=mdo.di=mdo.
25.54

Entering known values yields

di=0.032012.0 cm=–0.384 cm.di=0.032012.0 cm=–0.384 cm. size 12{d rSub { size 8{i} } "=-" left (0 "." "0320" right ) left ("12" "." 0" cm" right )"=-"0 "." "384"" cm"} {}
25.55
1 f = 1 d o + 1 d i 1 f = 1 d o + 1 d i size 12{ { {1} over {f} } = { {1} over {d rSub { size 8{o} } } } + { {1} over {d rSub { size 8{i} } } } } {}
25.56

Substituting known values,

1f=112.0 cm+10.384 cm=2.52cm.1f=112.0 cm+10.384 cm=2.52cm. size 12{ { {1} over {f} } = { {1} over {"12" "." 0" cm"} } + { {1} over {-0 "." "384"" cm"} } = { {-2 "." "52"} over {"cm"} } } {}
25.57

This must be inverted to find ff size 12{f} {}:

f=cm2.52=–0.400 cm.f=cm2.52=–0.400 cm. size 12{f= { {"cm"} over { +- 2 "." "52"} } "=-"0 "." "400"" cm"} {}
25.58

The radius of curvature is twice the focal length, so that

R=2f=0.800 cm.R=2f=0.800 cm. size 12{R=2 lline f rline =0 "." "800"" cm"} {}
25.59

Discussion

Although the focal length ff size 12{f} {} of a convex mirror is defined to be negative, we take the absolute value to give us a positive value for RR size 12{R} {}. The radius of curvature found here is reasonable for a cornea. The distance from cornea to retina in an adult eye is about 2.0 cm. In practice, many corneas are not spherical, complicating the job of fitting contact lenses. Note that the image distance here is negative, consistent with the fact that the image is behind the mirror, where it cannot be projected. In this section’s Problems and Exercises, you will show that for a fixed object distance, the smaller the radius of curvature, the smaller the magnification.

The three types of images formed by mirrors (cases 1, 2, and 3) are exactly analogous to those formed by lenses, as summarized in the table at the end of Image Formation by Lenses. It is easiest to concentrate on only three types of images—then remember that concave mirrors act like convex lenses, whereas convex mirrors act like concave lenses.

Take-Home Experiment: Concave Mirrors Close to Home

Find a flashlight and identify the curved mirror used in it. Find another flashlight and shine the first flashlight onto the second one, which is turned off. Estimate the focal length of the mirror. You might try shining a flashlight on the curved mirror behind the headlight of a car, keeping the headlight switched off, and determine its focal length.

Problem-Solving Strategy for Mirrors

Step 1. Examine the situation to determine that image formation by a mirror is involved.

Step 2. Refer to the Problem-Solving Strategies for Lenses. The same strategies are valid for mirrors as for lenses with one qualification—use the ray tracing rules for mirrors listed earlier in this section.

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