Exploring the Reflection of Light Rays in Convex Mirrors

Exploring the Reflection of Light Rays in Convex Mirrors

Light is an essential part of our lives, and it is fascinating to explore how it behaves in different situations. One of the most interesting phenomena is the reflection of light rays in convex mirrors. Convex mirrors are curved mirrors that are curved outward, and they are used in a variety of applications, such as in car rearview mirrors and security cameras.

When light rays hit a convex mirror, they are reflected in a way that is different from a flat mirror. Instead of reflecting the light rays in a straight line, the convex mirror reflects the light rays in a curved path. This is because the curved surface of the mirror causes the light rays to bend as they hit the mirror.

The curved path of the reflected light rays can be used to create interesting effects. For example, a convex mirror can be used to create a wide-angle view of a scene. This is because the curved surface of the mirror causes the light rays to spread out, creating a wider field of view.

Convex mirrors are well known for their ability to create interesting optical illusions, loved by children (of all ages). For example, a convex mirror can be used to create an image that appears to be larger than it actually is. This is because the curved surface of the mirror causes the light rays to spread out, creating an illusion of size.

Exploring the reflection of light rays in convex mirrors can be a fascinating and rewarding experience. By understanding how light behaves in these mirrors we can gain a better understanding of how light works in general, and how it can be used in a variety of applications.

Convex Mirror Ray Diagram
Convex Mirror Ray Diagram

How Convex Mirrors Work

As noted, light reflected from a convex mirror diverges and doesn’t focus on a single point. A convex mirror surface can be formed from a portion of a sphere. The centre of that sphere is called the centre of curvature and a line passing from the viewer’s position, through the mirror surface to the centre of curvature is called the principle axis.

The convex mirror has a focal point located on the principle axis, behind the reflective surface, midway between the surface and the centre of curvature. Since the focal point is not in front of the mirror surface this is referred to as a negative focal length.

Convex mirrors are called diverging mirrors due to how reflected light diverges due to the curvature of the mirror surface. This divergence means the light rays never converge on the object side of the mirror. Convex mirrors therefore reflect virtual images that are located behind the mirror.

If a parallel beam of light falls on the curved surface of a convex mirror the rays diverge, due to the curvature of the mirror surface. This divergence is directly related to the curvature of the surface and the diverging rays travel away from the negative focal point behind the reflective surface, midway between the surface and the centre of curvature.

To observe these effects for yourself take a look at the reflections in the rear surface of a shiny spoon.

Reflection from Convex Rear Surface of a Spoon

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