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Virtual images are images formed in places where light does not really reach. Light does not really pass through the mirror to create the image; it only appears to an observer as though the light were coming from behind the mirror. Whenever a mirror creates an image which is virtual, the image will always be located behind the mirror where light does not really pass.

Virtual Image

A virtual image is upright, on the opposite side of the mirror as the object, and light does not actually reach it.

Ray diagrams

We draw ray diagrams to predict the image that is formed by a plane mirror. A ray diagram is a geometrical picture that is used for analyzing the images formed by mirrors and lenses. We draw a few characteristic rays from the object to the mirror. We then follow ray-tracing rules to find the path of the rays and locate the image.

A mirror obeys the Law of Reflection.

The ray diagram for the image formed by a plane mirror is the simplest possible ray diagram. [link] shows an object placed in front of a plane mirror. It is convenient to have a central line that runs perpendicular to the mirror. This imaginary line is called the principal axis .

Ray diagrams

The following should be remembered when drawing ray diagrams:

  1. Objects are represented by arrows. The length of the arrow represents the height of the object.
  2. If the arrow points upwards, then the object is described as upright or erect. If the arrow points downwards then the object is described as inverted.
  3. If the object is real, then the arrow is drawn with a solid line. If the object is virtual, then the arrow is drawn with a dashed line.

Method: Ray Diagrams for Plane Mirrors

Ray diagrams are used to find the position and size and whether the image is real or virtual.

  1. Draw the plane mirror as a straight line on a principal axis.
  2. Draw the object as an arrow in front of the mirror.
  3. Draw the image of the object, by using the principle that the image is placed at the same distance behind the mirror that the object is in front of the mirror. The image size is also the same as the object size.
  4. Place a dot at the point the eye is located.
  5. Pick one point on the image and draw the reflected ray that travels to the eye as it sees this point. Remember to add an arrowhead.
  6. Draw the incident ray for light traveling from the corresponding point on the object to the mirror, such that the law of reflection is obeyed.
  7. Continue for other extreme points on the object (i.e. the tip and base of the arrow).

Suppose a light ray leaves the top of the object traveling parallel to the principal axis. The ray will hit the mirror at an angle of incidence of 0 degrees. We say that the ray hits the mirror normally . According to the law of reflection, the ray will be reflected at 0 degrees. The ray then bounces back in the same direction. We also project the ray back behind the mirror because this is what your eye does.

Another light ray leaves the top of the object and hits the mirror at its centre. This ray will be reflected at the same angle as its angle of incidence, as shown. If we project the ray backward behind the mirror, it will eventually cross the projection of the first ray we drew. We have found the location of the image! It is a virtual image since it appears in an area that light cannot actually reach (behind the mirror). You can see from the diagram that the image is erect and is the same size as the object. This is exactly as we expected.

Questions & Answers

are nano particles real
Missy Reply
Hello, if I study Physics teacher in bachelor, can I study Nanotechnology in master?
Lale Reply
no can't
where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
has a lot of application modern world
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Berger describes sociologists as concerned with
Mueller Reply
what is hormones?
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Source:  OpenStax, Siyavula textbooks: grade 10 physical science. OpenStax CNX. Aug 29, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11245/1.3
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