Virtual image

"Virtual object" redirects here. For the representation of objects in computers, see Virtualization. For digital-media objects, see Virtual artifact.
Top: The formation of a virtual image using a diverging lens. Bottom: The formation of a virtual image using a convex mirror. In both diagrams, f  is the focal point, O  is the object and I  is the image, shown in grey. Solid blue lines indicate light rays. It can be seen that the light rays appear to emanate from the virtual image but do not actually exist at the position of the virtual image. Thus an image cannot be seen by placing a screen at the position of the virtual image.

In optics, a virtual image is an image formed when the outgoing rays from a point on an object always diverge. The image appears to be located at the point of apparent divergence. Because the rays never really converge, a virtual image cannot be projected onto a screen. In diagrams of optical systems, virtual rays are conventionally represented by dotted lines. Virtual images are located by tracing the real rays that emerge from an optical device (lens, mirror, or some combination) backward to a perceived point of origin.

In contrast, a real image is one that is formed when the outgoing rays from a point converge at a real location. Real images can be projected onto a diffuse reflecting screen, but a screen is not necessary for the image to form.[1]

.The image in a plane mirror is not magnified (that is, the image is the same size as the object) and appears to be as far behind the mirror as the object is in front of the mirror.

See also


  1. Knight, Randall D. (2002). Five Easy Lessons: Strategies for successful physics teaching. Addison Wesley. pp. 276–277.
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