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A concave mirror is also known as a converging mirror. Light rays appear to converge to the focal point of a concave mirror.

Convex mirrors

The second type of curved mirror we will study are convex mirrors. Convex mirrors have the shape shown in [link] . As with a plane mirror, the principal axis is a line that is perpendicular to the centre of the mirror.

We have defined the focal point as that point that is half-way along the principal axis between the centre of curvature and the mirror. Now for a convex mirror, this point is behind the mirror. A convex mirror has a negative focal length because the focal point is behind the mirror.

Convex mirror with principle axis, focal point (F) and centre of curvature (C). The centre of the mirror is the optical centre (O).

To determine what the image from a convex mirror looks like and where the image is located, we need to remember that a mirror obeys the laws of reflection and that light appears to come from the image. The image created by a convex mirror is shown in [link] .

A convex mirror with three rays drawn to locate the image. Each incident ray is reflected according to the Law of Reflection. The reflected rays diverge. If the reflected rays are extended behind the mirror, then their intersection gives the location of the image behind the mirror. For a convex mirror, the image is virtual and upright.

From [link] , we see that the image created by a convex mirror is virtual and upright, as compared to the real and inverted image created by a concave mirror.


A convex mirror is also known as a diverging mirror. Light rays appear to diverge from the focal point of a convex mirror.

Summary of properties of mirrors

The properties of mirrors are summarised in [link] .

Summary of properties of concave and convex mirrors.
Plane Concave Convex
converging diverging
virtual image real image virtual image
upright inverted upright
image behind mirror image in front of mirror image behind mirror


In  [link] and [link] , the height of the object and image arrows were different. In any optical system where images are formed from objects, the ratio of the image height, h i , to the object height, h o is known as the magnification, m .

m = h i h o

This is true for the mirror examples we showed above and will also be true for lenses, which will be introduced in the next sections. For a plane mirror, the height of the image is the same as the height of the object, so the magnification is simply m = h i h o = 1 . If the magnification is greater than 1, the image is larger than the object and is said to be magnified . If the magnification is less than 1, the image is smaller than the object so the image is said to be diminished .

A concave mirror forms an image that is 4,8 cm high. The height of the object is 1,6 cm. Calculate the magnification of the mirror.

  1. Image height h i = 4,8 cm

    Object height h o = 1,6 cm

    Magnification m = ?

  2. m = h i h o = 4 , 8 1 , 6 = 3

    The magnification is 3 times.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!


  1. List 5 properties of a virtual image created by reflection from a plane mirror.
  2. What angle does the principal axis make with a plane mirror?
  3. Is the principal axis a normal to the surface of the plane mirror?
  4. Do the reflected rays that contribute to forming the image from a plane mirror obey the law of reflection?
  5. If a candle is placed 50 cm in front of a plane mirror, how far behind the plane mirror will the image be? Draw a ray diagram to show how the image is formed.
  6. If a stool 0,5 m high is placed 2 m in front of a plane mirror, how far behind the plane mirror will the image be and how high will the image be?
  7. If Susan stands 3 m in front of a plane mirror, how far from Susan will her image be located?
  8. Explain why ambulances have the word `ambulance' reversed on the front bonnet of the car?
  9. Complete the diagram by filling in the missing lines to locate the image.
  10. An object 2 cm high is placed 4 cm in front of a plane mirror. Draw a ray diagram, showing the object, the mirror and the position of the image.
  11. The image of an object is located 5 cm behind a plane mirror. Draw a ray diagram, showing the image, the mirror and the position of the object.
  12. How high must a mirror be so that you can see your whole body in it? Does it make a difference if you change the distance you stand in front of the mirror? Explain.
  13. If 1-year old Tommy crawls towards a mirror at a rate of 0,3 m · s - 1 , at what speed will Tommy and his image approach each other?
  14. Use a diagram to explain how light converges to the focal point of a concave mirror.
  15. Use a diagram to explain how light diverges away from the focal point of a convex mirror.
  16. An object 1 cm high is placed 4 cm from a concave mirror. If the focal length of the mirror is 2 cm, find the position and size of the image by means of a ray diagram. Is the image real or virtual? What is the magnification?
  17. An object 2 cm high is placed 4 cm from a convex mirror. If the focal length of the mirror is 4 cm, find the position and size of the image by means of a ray diagram. Is the image real or virtual? What is the magnification?

Questions & Answers

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 .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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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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