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# Lecture Notes for Chapter 34: Images

Disclaimer: These notes are not meant to replace the textbook. Please report
any inaccuracies to the professor.

## 1. Spherical Reflecting Surfaces

Bad News: This subject is very heavy in notation!
Good News: There arent any new principles. Everything follows
from angle of incidence equals angle of reflection and we will provide
simple rules to avoid even having to use that!

Types of Mirrors
Figure 1 shows the three types of mirrors we will consider. All of them
are segments of spheres centered on a horizontal axis. There is an object (O)
being reflected and a human (on the same side) observing the reflection. The
terms concave and convex are from the perspective of the object:
A concave mirror caves in on the object; whereas
A convex mirror flexes away from the object.
Each mirror has a radius of curvature r (which is infinite for the plane mirror)
and a focal length f = 12 r. By convention, distances are measured, along the
central axis, as positive from the mirror in the direction of the object and
negative away from the object. Hence the radius of curvature and the focal
length are positive for concave mirrors and negative for convex mirrors.

## The Various Lengths

Six lengths are relevant for mirrors:
The radius of curvature r, which is positive for concave mirrors and
negative for convex ones;
The focal length f , which is positive for concave mirrors and negative
for convex ones;
The object distance p, which is always positive;
1

Flat Mirror

Concave Mirror

Convex Mirror
O

Figure 1: The three types of mirrors. In each case the human (the filthy,
diseased animal in green) stands to the left of the mirror, as does the object
(O) being reflected. The image can form either on the same side as the
human (in which case it is called a REAL image) or on the side opposite
from the human (in which case it is called a VIRTUAL image). The center
of each spherical mirror is C and its focal point is F. The radius of curvature r
and focus f of the flat mirror are infinite; the concave mirror has r = 2f > 0;
and the convex mirror has r = 2f < 0.

## The object height h, which is always positive;

The image distance i, which is positive for REAL images (on the same
side as the human) and negative for VIRTUAL images (on the opposite
side as the human); and
The image height h , which is always positive, even if the image is
inverted.

## The Focal Point

The key property of the focal point is that any light ray which approaches
the mirror traveling parallel to the central axis is reflected back along a line
passing through the focal point. Note that the time reversal invariance of
electrodynamics therefore implies that any light ray passing through the focal
point is reflected back along a line parallel to the central axis.

Types of Images
We distinguish images depending upon whether they form on the same
2

Concave Mirror

Convex Mirror

Figure 2: Incident light rays which are parallel to the central axis (red) reflect
back along a line through the focal point. Light rays which are incident along
a line through the focal point (blue) reflect back parallel to the central axis.
For the case of the convex mirror note that neither of the rays actually reaches
the focal point, but they nevertheless move along lines which pass through
the focal point.

## side of the human or the opposite side:

REAL images form on the same side of the mirror as the human. They
have i > 0 and they are INVERTED with respect to the object. The
magnification for a REAL image is m = h /h.
VIRTUAL images seem (to the stupid human) as if they emerge from
the opposite side of the mirror. They have i < 0 and they are NOT
INVERTED with respect to the object. The magnification for a VIRTUAL image is m = +h /h.
Figure 3 shows examples of the two types of images.

## How to find the image

There is a geometrical method and and algebraic method. The geometrical method is to follow any two incident light rays which pass through the
top of the object. Three rays which are easy to follow are:
One which is incident parallel to the central axis and hence reflects
back through a line passing through the focal point;
One which is incident along a line which passes through the focal point,
and hence is reflected back parallel to the central axis; and
3

Concave Mirror

Convex Mirror

h
C

I
Figure 3: The concave mirror on the left forms a REAL image which is
INVERTED when the object lies outside the focal point. The magnification in this case is m = h /h. Note that the image distance i is positive.
The convex mirror on the right forms a VIRTUAL image which is NOT INVERTED where ever the object is located. The magnification in this case is
m = +h /h. Note that the image distance i is negative.
Mirror
Type

Object
Location

Image
Location

Image
Type

Plane

Anywhere

Opposite

Virtual

Concave

Inside F

Opposite

Concave

Outside F

Convex

Anywhere

Image
Orientation

sgn(f)
sgn(r)

sgn(m)

Not Inverted

NA

Virtual

Not Inverted

Same

Real

Inverted

Opposite

Virtual

Not Inverted

## Table 1: Table 34-1 with the entries filled in.

One which reflects off the mirror at the central axis, and hence reflects
back symmetrically.
Figure 4 illustrates the technique. Using these techniques we can fill out
the entries in the texts Table 34-1. which you should include in your
formula sheet.

## Analyzing Mirrors the Easy Way

There is unfortunately no way to avoid the complicated notation. However, two simple formulae allow us to avoid the complicated graphical constructions. The first of these relations allows us to determine the image
4

Concave Mirror

Convex Mirror

O
I

I
Figure 4: The geometrical technique for finding the image is to follow any
two incident rays which pass through the top of the object. In each case
the red ray is incident parallel to the central axis, so it reflects back along
a line that passes through the focal point. The blue ray is incident along a
line which passes through the focal point, so it reflects back parallel to the
central axis. And the green ray reflects from the mirror at the central axis,
so the reflected ray is symmetric about the central axis.

## distance i in terms of the object distance p and the focal length f :

1
1 1
+ = .
p i
f

(1)

Note that this relation is valid no matter what are the signs of f and i. (The
sign of p is always positive.) The second relation gives the magnification in
terms of the object and image distances:
i
m= .
p

(2)

## Note that this formula is valid no matter what the sign of i.

For some examples, lets work through the values used to construct Figure
3. The concave mirror has a focal length of f = +25 length units. The object
O is at a distance of p = +40 length units. We can infer the location of the
image from equation (1),
1
1
1
+ =
40 i
25

1
1
1
3
=

=
i
25 40
200

i=

200
66.3 . (3)
3

Because i > 0 the image stands about 66.3 length units to the left of the
mirror, so it is REAL and INVERTED. We can infer the magnification from
5

equation (2),
200
3

5
= .
(4)
40
3
So if the height of the object is h = +20 length units then the height of the
33.3 length units. Note that h is always positive, even
image is h = + 100
3
if the image is inverted.
The convex mirror in Figure 3 has a focal length of f = 25 length units,
and the object is at p = +50 length units. We again employ equation (1) to
find the location of the image,
m=

1
1
1
+ =
50 i
25

50
16.7 .
3
(5)
Because i < 0 the image forms on the other side of the mirror. Hence it is
VIRTUAL and NOT INVERTED. The magnification is,
=

1
1
1
3
=
=
i
25 50
50

 50 

m=

50

i=

1
=+ .
3

## So if the object is h = 20 length units high then the image is h =

length units high.

(6)
20
3

6.7

## 2. Spherical Refracting Surfaces

Bad News: This subject is also very heavy in notation, and some of
it disagrees with the notation for reflecting surfaces.
Good News: There arent any new principles. Everything follows
from Snells Law and we will provide simple rules to avoid even having
to use that. Further, the discordant notation was arranged to make the
simple rules carry over from reflecting surfaces.
Notation for Spherical Refracting Surfaces
We will consider refraction between two media, one with index of refraction n1 , which contains the object being viewed, and the other medium
with index of refraction n2 , which contains the human who observes the object. The two regions are joined along a spherical boundary whose radius of
curvature is r. Most of the notation is the same as for mirrors, in particular:
Concave surfaces cave in on the object, whereas convex surfaces flex
away from the object;
6

Concave Surface

Convex Surface
O

OI
C
n1 =

I
C

3
2

n1 =

n2 = 1

3
2

n2 = 1

Figure 5: The figure shows a typical concave surface (with r = 50) and a
convex surface (with r = +50). The object is O and the corresponding image
is I. The human observer in green is always opposite to the object. In each
case the image is VIRTUAL (because it forms on the opposite side from the
human) and NOT INVERTED, although note that REAL and INVERTED
images are possible.

## The object distance p from the boundary is always positive;

The image is REAL and INVERTED when it forms on the same side
as the human, whereas the image is VIRTUAL and NOT INVERTED
when it forms on the side opposite to the human;
The image distance i is positive when the image forms on the side of
the human and it is negative when the image forms on the side opposite
to the human; and
The magnification is negative for real images and positive for virtual
images.
However, there is a crucial difference from the notation of mirrors:
The radius of curvature r is positive for a convex refracting surface and
negative for a concave refracting surface.
This last discordant convention was arranged in order to make the
following analog of equation (1) apply for spherical refracting surfaces:
(n2 n1 )
n1 n2
+
=
.
p
i
r

(7)

## The magnification also goes over from (2),

i
m= .
p

(8)

For some examples, let us use relations (7-8) to understand how Figure 5
was constructed. The concave surface in Figure 5 has a radius of curvature
r = 50 length units, and it separates a region of n1 = 23 which contains
the object from a region of n2 = 1 which contains the human. The object
distance is p = +35. We infer the image location using equation (7),
(1 23 )
1
1
1
3
23
700
=
=
=

=
= i =
30.4 .
35 i
50
i
100 70
700
23
(9)
Because i < 0 the image is VIRTUAL and NOT INVERTED. That is, it
forms on the same side as the object, which is opposite from the human.
(We would need p > 150 length units to get a REAL image with these values
of r, n1 and n2 .) The magnification is,
3
2

 700 

m=

23

35

=+

20
0.870 .
23

(10)

So if the object height is h = 20 length units then the image height is about
h 17.4 length units.
The convex surface in Figure 5 has radius of curvature r = +50 length
units. The object distance is p = 50 length units so equation (7) gives,
3
2

50

(1 32 )
1
=
i
+50

1
1
3
1
=

=
i
100 100
25

i = 25 . (11)

Because i < 0 this image is also VIRTUAL and NOT INVERTED. (Note
that with these values of r, n1 and n2 there is no object distance p which
would produce a REAL image. However, if we encased the human in glass
with n1 = 1 and n2 = 32 then the image would be REAL for p > 100 length
units.) The magnification is,
 25 

m=

50

1
=+ .
2

(12)

## So if the object height is h = 20 length units then the image height is h = 10

length units.
8

3. Lenses
Bad News: The calculations involve fractions, which can be tough for
an American!
who can handle the complicated math for those of us who have had the
benefit of American educational reforms.
A thin lens is produced by gluing together two spherical segments of
refractive index n surrounded by air (whose index of refraction we shall take
to be one.) The relation between the object and the image can be understood
by two applications of relation (7):
From the object side, with n1 = 1, to the lens of n2 = n with curvature
From n1 = n to the human side with n2 , bounded by curvature radius
r2 .
The focal length of the resulting lens is,
h1
1i
1
.
= (n1)
f
r1 r2

(13)

The focal length f will be positive for converging lenses and negative for
diverging lenses.
As always, we measure the image position i as positive when the image
forms on the same side as the human, which is a REAL, INVERTED image.
When the image forms on the side opposite to the human the image distance
i is negative and the image is VIRTUAL and NOT INVERTED. The relation
between the object and image is,
1 1
1
+ = .
p i
f

(14)

## And the magnification is the same as always,

i
m= .
p

(15)

Converging Lens
I

Diverging Lens

Figure 6: The figure shows a typical converging lens (with focal length f =
+50) and a diverging lens (with focal length f = 50). The object is O and
the corresponding image is I. The human observer in green is always opposite
to the object. In each case the image is VIRTUAL (because it forms on the
opposite side from the human) and NOT INVERTED. However, a converging
lens will form a REAL image which is INVERTED when the object distance
is greater than the focal length.

For some examples let us consider how Figure 6 was constructed. The
converging lens has focal length f = +50 length units, and the object distance
is p = +25 length units. We can figure the image location out from equation
(14),
1
1
1
+ =
25 i
50

1
1
1
1
=

=
i
50 25
50

i = 50 .

(16)

Because i < 0 the image is VIRTUAL and NOT INVERTED. (Note that
making p > 50 length units would produce a REAL, INVERTED image.)
The magnification is,
 50 
m=
= +2 .
(17)
25
So if the object height is h = 20 length units then the image height is h = 40
length units.
The diverging lens in Figure 6 has a focal length of f = 50 length units,
and the object distance is p = 50 length units. From equation (14) we see
that the image forms at,
1
1
1
+ =
50 i
50

1
1
1
1
=
=
i
50 50
25

10

i = 25 .

(18)

Lens
Type

Object
Location

Image
Location

Image
Type

Converging

Inside F

Same

Virtual

Converging

Outside F

Opposite

Diverging

Anywhere

Same

Image
Orientation

sgn(f)
sgn(r)

sgn(m)

Not Inverted

Real

Inverted

Virtual

Not Inverted

## Table 2: Table 34-2 with the entries filled in.

Because i < 0 the image is VIRTUAL and NOT INVERTED. (That will
always be true for a diverging lens.) The magnification is,
 25 

m=

50

1
=+ .
2

(19)

## So if the object height is h = 20 length units then the image height is h = 10

length units.
Proceeding in this way we can fill out all the entries of Table 34-2 from
the text. This should also be on your formula sheet.
A compound lens system is obtained by simply inserting a second lens
between the human and the object, as shown in Figure 7. Although the
figure shows two converging lenses, either or both of the two lenses can be
diverging. We can find the image the human sees by two applications of
relation (14). First use the equation without reference to the second lens to
find where the image from the first lens forms. For the compound lens shown
in Figure 7 the focal length of the first lens is f1 = +50 length units, and the
object distance from that lens is p1 = +25 length units. Hence the image
distance from the first lens is,
1
1
1
+ =
25 i1
50

1
1
1
1
=

=
i1
50 25
50

i1 = 50 .

(20)

Because i1 < 0 the first image is VIRTUAL and NOT INVERTED. Its
magnification is,
 50 
m1 =
= +2 .
(21)
25
The image from the first lens provides the object for the second lens. The
object distance to it is,
p2 = d i1 = 75 (50) = +125 .
11

(22)

I1

p2

i2

p1
|i1 |

I2

## Figure 7: A compound lens system formed by two converging lenses, each

with focal length f = 50, which are separated by a distance d = 75. The
human observer is shown in green. The object O is at distance p1 = 25
from the left lens, and the corresponding image I1 is at i1 = 50 from the
left lens and is magnified by m1 = +2. Because i1 < 0 the first image is
on the same side as the object and NOT INVERTED. The distance of this
first image from the second lens is p2 = d i1 = +125. The final image
from the second lens and is magnified (with
I2 is at a distance i2 = + 250
3
respect to the first image) by m2 = 32 . Because i2 > 0 the final image is
REAL and INVERTED. The total magnification (with respect to the object)
is M = m1 m2 = 34 .

## Although this particular example produced a positive object distance note

that the second object distance can be negative. When that happens
it is no problem; just go ahead and compute the second image distance from
equation (14). In our case we find the second image distance to be,
1
1
1
+ =
125 i2
50

1
1
1
3
=

=
i2
50 125
250

250
83.3 .
3
(23)
Because i2 > 0, the second image is REAL and INVERTED with respect
to the first image. Because our first image was not inverted, the second
image is also INVERTED with respect to the object, but it would have been
NOT INVERTED had the first object been INVERTED. Table 3 lists the
various possibilities.
The final magnification also depends upon what happens in each lens.
For the case depicted in Figure 7, the magnification of the second image
=

12

i2 = +

Orientation of
1st Image wrt Object

Orientation of
2nd Image wrt 1st Image

Orientation of
2nd Image wrt Object

Not Inverted

Not Inverted

Not Inverted

Not Inverted

Inverted

Inverted

Inverted

Not Inverted

Inverted

Inverted

Inverted

Not Inverted

## Table 3: Orientation of the final image relative to the object in a 2-lens

system.
relative to the first image is,
 + 250 

m2 =

125

2
= .
3

(24)

## The total magnification relative to the object is,



M = m1 m2 = (+2)

4
2
= .
3
3

(25)

As a final example, consider problem 34-87 from the text. This consists of
a compound lens system composed of two diverging lenses with the following
parameters,
p1 = 20 ,

f1 = 12 ,

d = 10 ,

f2 = 8 .

(26)

We find the image distance from the first lens using equation (14),
1
1
1
+ =
20 i1
12

15
= 7.5 .
2
(27)
Because i1 < 0 the first image is VIRTUAL and NOT INVERTED. Its
magnification is,
 15 
3
2
=+ .
(28)
m1 =
20
8
The distance of the first image from the second lens is,
=

1
1
1
2
=
=
i1
12 20
15

p2 = 10 + 7.5 = 17.5 =
13

35
.
2

i1 =

(29)

Hence the distance of the final image from the second mirror is,
2 1
1
+ =
35 i2
8

280
5.49 .
51
(30)
Because i2 < 0 this second image is VIRTUAL and NOT INVERTED with
respect to the first image. Because the first image was also NOT INVERTED,
the final image is NOT INVERTED with respect to the object. Relative to
the first image, the magnification of the second image is,
=

1
1 2
51
=
=
i2
8 35
280

 280 

m2 =

51
35
2

16
.
51

i2 =

(31)

M=

2
3 16

= + 0.118 .
8 51
17

14

(32)