A convex mirror is a spherical object with an inward curve on its reflecting surface. Its image is not flat, but curved. A diverging mirror has an inward curve on its reflective surface, and thus, forms a virtual image of an object. When an object approaches a convex-shaped mirror, it increases in size and gets closer to the point of focus. However, when an object moves away from a convex-shaped mirror, the image is diminished.
A concave mirror, on the other hand, is an inverted mirror. Instead of projecting an image outward, it reflects an image inward. The reflection of a parallel beam of light on a concave-shaped mirror converges at a point, while a convex-shaped one curves inward. In converting the sign, the radius of curvature and focal length must be taken into account.
The differences between a concave-shaped and a convex-shaped mirror are most easily discernible when viewing the two-dimensional appearance of a photograph. A convex-shaped mirror, on the other hand, produces a smaller image. As a result, a digital image is larger than a real-world one. The virtual image is located “behind” the convex-shaped mirror.
As with any optical device, the difference between a convex-shaped mirror and a spherical one is based on the focal length of a spherical object. A convex-shaped mirror is always more narrow than a corresponding convex-shaped one, and the angle of curvature is smaller than the radius of a circle. The focal length, or angle of curvature, is measured in terms of the distance from the object to the lens.
A concave-shaped mirror has a surface that reflects light in a sphere. A convex-shaped mirror has a flat surface, but is bent inward to focus light. A cone-shaped mirror will reflect a rounded image, whereas a convex-shaped mirror will project a flat image. They are most commonly used in searchlights and automobile headlights.
In contrast, a concave-shaped mirror has a flat, inward-curving surface. It is the focal point of a sphere, and displays a single image, depending on the distance. The focus, F, in a concave-shaped spherical mirror is in front. A flat-sided spherical mirror has its focus at the center.
A convex-shaped mirror reflects light more than a flat-surfaced one. A convex-shaped mirror is spherical and has a curved outer surface. The image of a convex-shaped mirror is not real, but is a virtual reflection. A flat-surfaced mirror is more akin to a sphere. While both shapes are similar in appearance, their distinct properties make them very useful for a variety of applications.
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