Difference Between Real Image And Virtual Image

Difference Between Real Image And Virtual Image

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Rashmi
Rashmi Karan
Manager - Content
Updated on Jan 24, 2024 10:32 IST

Real and virtual images are the two image classifications formed by the reflection or refraction of light rays. The crucial difference between real images and virtual images is that real images form when light rays meet at one point after being reflected or refracted by a mirror, while virtual images form if light rays appear to meet at a near point beyond the mirror. Read the article to learn about real and virtual images and explore the difference between real and virtual images.

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What is a Real Image?

Real images form after the light rays converge at a point after being reflected or refracted from a mirror or lens. Actual images are formed at the point where light rays interact with each other. The actual images are inverted in nature and can be seen on the screen.

Suppose an object is placed in front of the concave mirror, and light, after reflecting from that object, hits the surface of the concave mirror. When multiple light rays hit the mirror, following the laws of reflection, the different light rays are reflected again and meet at one point in front of the mirror.

The below diagram represents the formation of a real image:

As we can see here, the light rays are focused at a specific position, and a visible image of that object is formed at that particular position. Note that after converging on a point, the rays deviate from that point.

What is a Virtual Image?

Virtual images only appear formed in a position behind a mirror. However, in reality, the image is not present there. Unlike real images, a virtual image is formed when reflected or refracted light rays are bent. In this case, when light from an object is allowed to hit the mirror and light rays are reflected, the rays appear to diverge somewhere behind the mirror.

A virtual image is created when light rays diverge from a concave lens. A virtual image forms on the left side of the lens.

Real Images vs. Virtual Images

Characteristic Real Images Virtual Images
Formation Front of the mirror Back of the mirror.
Location Located on the same side as the object Located on the opposite side of the object
Interactivity Can be captured on a screen or surface Cannot be captured on a screen or surface
Magnification Can be magnified or reduced in size Can appear larger or smaller, depending on the lens or mirror used
Image Capture Can be captured with a camera or projector Cannot be captured with a camera or projector
Types of Mirrors/Lenses Formed by concave mirrors or converging lenses Formed by convex mirrors or diverging lenses
Visibility Can be seen without optical aids Typically requires optical aids like mirrors or lenses to view
Realism Reproduces an actual object Represents a perceived or virtual object
Examples Movies played in theatres Reflection of any object or body in a plane mirror
Use Cases Used in microscopes, projectors, and cameras Utilized in virtual reality (VR) systems, computer graphics, and simulations
  1. Real images form when light rays converge at a point in front of a mirror or lens after reflection or refraction, while virtual images form when light rays diverge after reflection or refraction.
  2. The real images appear on the screen, while the virtual images form on the left side of the lens and do not appear on the screen.
  3. A real image is created with converging lenses, while a diverging lens is used for virtual image formation.
  4. Real images are inverted, whereas virtual images are erect.
  5. Real images are formed by concave mirrors or convex lenses, while plane, convex, and concave lenses form virtual images.
  6. The front segment of the mirror forms real images, while virtual images are supposed to form behind the mirror.
  7. The actual images are formed due to the actual interaction of the actual rays, while virtual images form when light rays interact imaginatively.
  8. In real images, the light rays diverge from the mirror side after converging, while in virtual images, light rays are supposed to diverge from a point behind the mirror.

FAQs

Where are real images located?

Real images are located on the opposite side of the lens or mirror from the object, where the actual convergence of light occurs.

Where are virtual images located?

Virtual images are located on the same side as the observer, where light rays' apparent convergence or divergence occurs.

Can real images be projected onto a surface?

Yes, real images can be projected onto a screen or surface since the actual convergence of light rays forms them.

Can virtual images be projected onto a surface?

Virtual images cannot be projected onto a screen or surface since they are perceived as diverging or converging light rays that do not physically intersect.

Which type of image is formed by a magnifying glass?

A magnifying glass typically forms a virtual image. It produces an enlarged, upright, and virtual image of the observed object.

About the Author
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Rashmi Karan
Manager - Content

Rashmi is a postgraduate in Biotechnology with a flair for research-oriented work and has an experience of over 13 years in content creation and social media handling. She has a diversified writing portfolio and aim... Read Full Bio