Optics and the properties of light have been a topic of interest for centuries. Understanding how light interacts with different materials and its ability to form images is fascinating science. Light plays a significant role in forming images that we see. In this article, we will highlight the differences between real and virtual images.
Before diving into the comparison, let's first understand the definition of the two terms:
A real image is an image formed by the actual intersection of light rays; it means that the image formed can be captured on a screen, and it will be real as it is formed by the actual rays of light. It is commonly referred to as a true image.
Virtual image, on the other hand, is an image that appears to be formed but cannot be captured on a screen or a piece of paper. Light does not physically pass through the image, which means that the rays emitting from the image do not intersect each other.
Now, let's get into the differences between the two types of images:
As mentioned earlier, a real image is formed by the actual intersection of light rays. These images are formed due to the reflection or refraction of light rays from a lens or mirror. The rays converge to form a real image at a specific location in space.
In contrast, a virtual image is formed as a result of the apparent divergence of light rays. The rays emerging from the object appear to form an image, but the actual intersection does not occur. Virtual images are formed by the reflection or refraction of light, and the angle at which the rays converge or diverge causes the formation of a virtual image.
Real images are inverted, meaning they are upside down from the object. For example, if you stand in front of a mirror, the image you see is a real image, and the orientation of the image will be upside down.
In contrast, virtual images are not inverted; they appear to be erect, and the orientation of the image is the same as the object. A common example of a virtual image is the image formed in a plane mirror. When you look at a plane mirror, the image formed is virtual, erect, and has the same orientation as the object.
Real images can be projected onto a screen or a piece of paper. The real image formed by a lens can be captured on a screen or a piece of paper and can be viewed as an actual image. For example, the images formed by a camera lens or a projector are real images.
In contrast, virtual images cannot be projected on a screen or a piece of paper. When light rays do not physically pass through the image, they cannot be captured on a screen or paper. A virtual image can only be seen by looking through the lens or mirror forming the image.
Real images are considered natural because the image formed is the actual rays of light intersecting, and the image seen is a real representation of the object. Real images can be captured by a camera or projected on a screen, making them useful for scientific and experimental purposes.
Virtual images, on the other hand, are considered purely conceptual; they are images that appear to be formed, but they do not physically exist. Because they are not physical objects, virtual images are not as useful for scientific research and experiments.
Real images can be magnified or diminished. Unlike virtual images, real images can be focused and captured on a screen or paper, which allows for the image sizes to be adjusted. For example, a microscope produces a real image that is magnified, while a telescope produces a real image that is diminished.
In contrast, virtual images are of the same size as the object. Since virtual images are formed by the apparent divergence of light rays, there is no adjustment of magnification or diminution. The size of the virtual image is the same as the size of the object.
Light rays and their properties have a significant impact on the formation of images. The differences between real and virtual images are significant, and understanding their unique properties is essential. Real images are formed by the actual intersection of light rays, are inverted, and can be projected onto a screen or paper. Virtual images are formed as a result of the apparent divergence of light rays, are erect, and cannot be projected onto a screen or paper. Overall, the properties of real and virtual images make them an essential topic of study for physicists, researchers, and anyone fascinated with the properties of light.