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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.

Test prep for ap courses

A student is testing the properties of a mirror with an unknown radius of curvature. The student notices that no matter how far an object is placed from the mirror, the image seen in the mirror is always upright and smaller than the object. What can the student deduce about this mirror?

  1. The mirror is convex.
  2. The mirror is flat.
  3. The mirror is concave.
  4. More information is required to deduce the shape of the mirror.


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A student notices a small printed sentence at the bottom of the driver’s side mirror on her car. It reads, “Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.” Which type of mirror is this (convex, concave, or flat)? How could you confirm the shape of the mirror experimentally?

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A mirror shows an upright image twice as large as the object when the object is 10 cm away from the mirror. What is the focal length of the mirror?

  1. -10 cm
  2. 10 cm
  3. 20 cm
  4. 40 cm


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A mirror shows an inverted image that is equal in size to the object when the object is 20 cm away from the mirror. Describe the image that will be formed if this object is moved to a distance of 5 cm away from the mirror.

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Section summary

  • The characteristics of an image formed by a flat mirror are: (a) The image and object are the same distance from the mirror, (b) The image is a virtual image, and (c) The image is situated behind the mirror.
  • Image length is half the radius of curvature.
    f = R 2 size 12{f= { {R} over {2} } } {}
  • A convex mirror is a diverging mirror and forms only one type of image, namely a virtual image.

Conceptual questions

What are the differences between real and virtual images? How can you tell (by looking) whether an image formed by a single lens or mirror is real or virtual?

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Can you see a virtual image? Can you photograph one? Can one be projected onto a screen with additional lenses or mirrors? Explain your responses.

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Is it necessary to project a real image onto a screen for it to exist?

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At what distance is an image always located—at d o size 12{d rSub { size 8{o} } } {} , d i size 12{d rSub { size 8{i} } } {} , or f size 12{f} {} ?

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Questions & Answers

Determine the total force and the absolute pressure on the bottom of a swimming pool 28.0m by 8.5m whose uniform depth is 1 .8m.
Henny Reply
for the answer to complete, the units need specified why
muqaddas Reply
That's just how the AP grades. Otherwise, you could be talking about m/s when the answer requires m/s^2. They need to know what you are referring to.
Suppose a speck of dust in an electrostatic precipitator has 1.0000×1012 protons in it and has a net charge of –5.00 nC (a very large charge for a small speck). How many electrons does it have?
Alexia Reply
how would I work this problem
how can you have not an integer number of protons? If, on the other hand it supposed to be 1e12, then 1.6e-19C/proton • 1e12 protons=1.6e-7 C is the charge of the protons in the speck, so the difference between this and 5e-9C is made up by electrons
what is angular velocity
Obaapa Reply
angular velocity can be defined as the rate of change in radian over seconds.
Why does earth exert only a tiny downward pull?
Mya Reply
Why is light bright?
Abraham Reply
what is radioactive element
Attah Reply
an 8.0 capacitor is connected by to the terminals of 60Hz whoes rms voltage is 150v. a.find the capacity reactance and rms to the circuit
Aisha Reply
thanks so much. i undersooth well
Valdes Reply
what is physics
Nwafor Reply
is the study of matter in relation to energy
physics can be defined as the natural science that deals with the study of motion through space,time along with its related concepts which are energy and force
a submersible pump is dropped a borehole and hits the level of water at the bottom of the borehole 5 seconds later.determine the level of water in the borehole
Obrian Reply
what is power?
aron Reply
power P = Work done per second W/ t. It means the more power, the stronger machine
e.g. heart Uses 2 W per beat.
A spherica, concave shaving mirror has a radius of curvature of 32 cm .what is the magnification of a persons face. when it is 12cm to the left of the vertex of the mirror
Alona Reply
did you solve?
my name is Abu m.konnek I am a student of a electrical engineer and I want you to help me
the magnification k = f/(f-d) with focus f = R/2 =16 cm; d =12 cm k = 16/4 =4
what do we call velocity
A weather vane is some sort of directional arrow parallel to the ground that may rotate freely in a horizontal plane. A typical weather vane has a large cross-sectional area perpendicular to the direction the arrow is pointing, like a “One Way” street sign. The purpose of the weather vane is to indicate the direction of the wind. As wind blows pa
Kavita Reply
what about the wind vane
If a prism is fully imersed in water then the ray of light will normally dispersed or their is any difference?
Anurag Reply
the same behavior thru the prism out or in water bud abbot
If this will experimented with a hollow(vaccum) prism in water then what will be result ?
Practice Key Terms 3

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