Tuesday, March 14, 2006

What happens when light is reflected and what type of image is formed by a plane mirror?

Reflection of Light

When you look into the mirror, you see a picture of yourself. It is called an image. The image in a mirror is formed when light rays bounce off the mirror and travel to your eyes. This bouncing of light off a mirror is called reflection.

A plane mirror is a mirror with a smooth flat surface and coating of silver or aluminium on one side. It is a flat mirror which is a good reflector. When a ray of light strikes the mirror at a right angle, it is reflected along the same path path (called normal/equals). When a ray of light hits a plane mirror at an angle to the normal (called angle of incidence), it is reflected at an equal angle but on the opposite side of the normal (called the angle of reflection). these two angles are always equal no matter how light rays strike the mirror.

In a plane mirror ....
  • the image is upright and of the same size as the object
  • the image lies as far behind the mirror as the object is in front of the mirror
  • an image is laterally inverted

Types of reflection

Regular reflection

When a parallel beam of light hits a smooth surface such as a plane mirror, it is reflected as a parallel beam. This is called regular reflection. An image is formed with a regular reflection.

Diffuse reflection

When a beam of light hits a rough surface, the individuals rays are reflected in different directions. so no image is formed. This type of reflection is called diffuse relection.


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