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HomeTren&dThe Image Formed by a Plane Mirror

The Image Formed by a Plane Mirror

A plane mirror is a flat, smooth surface that reflects light in a predictable manner. When an object is placed in front of a plane mirror, it creates an image that appears to be behind the mirror. Understanding the characteristics and properties of the image formed by a plane mirror is essential in various fields, including physics, optics, and everyday life. In this article, we will explore the image formation process, the properties of the image, and its applications.

How is the Image Formed?

When light rays from an object strike a plane mirror, they undergo reflection. Reflection is the process by which light bounces off a surface. The angle of incidence, which is the angle between the incident ray and the normal to the mirror’s surface, is equal to the angle of reflection, the angle between the reflected ray and the normal. This phenomenon follows the law of reflection, which states that the incident ray, the reflected ray, and the normal to the surface all lie in the same plane.

As a result of reflection, an image is formed. The image appears to be behind the mirror, and it is a virtual image, meaning it cannot be projected onto a screen. The image formed by a plane mirror is a reflection of the object, maintaining the same size and shape. However, it is laterally inverted, meaning left and right are reversed.

Properties of the Image

The image formed by a plane mirror possesses several distinct properties:

  • Virtual Image: As mentioned earlier, the image formed by a plane mirror is virtual. It cannot be projected onto a screen or captured on a surface. Instead, it is perceived by the observer’s eye as if the light rays are coming from behind the mirror.
  • Laterally Inverted: The image formed by a plane mirror is laterally inverted, meaning it appears reversed from left to right. For example, if you raise your right hand in front of a plane mirror, the image will show the left hand raised.
  • Same Size and Shape: The image formed by a plane mirror maintains the same size and shape as the object. If the object is tall and thin, the image will also be tall and thin.
  • Equal Distance: The image formed by a plane mirror is located at the same distance behind the mirror as the object is in front of it. This distance is known as the object distance.

Applications of Plane Mirrors

Plane mirrors have numerous practical applications in various fields. Let’s explore some of the most common applications:

1. Personal Grooming

Plane mirrors are extensively used in personal grooming activities, such as applying makeup, shaving, and styling hair. The mirror’s ability to provide a clear, undistorted reflection allows individuals to see themselves as others do, enabling them to make precise adjustments and enhance their appearance.

2. Periscopes

Periscopes are optical devices that use multiple plane mirrors to allow individuals to see objects that are not in their direct line of sight. They are commonly used in submarines, armored vehicles, and other situations where direct visibility is limited. The arrangement of mirrors in a periscope reflects light at various angles, enabling the viewer to observe objects from a concealed position.

3. Rearview Mirrors

Rearview mirrors in vehicles are typically plane mirrors that provide the driver with a view of the road behind them. These mirrors are strategically positioned to eliminate blind spots and enhance safety while driving. The image formed by the rearview mirror allows the driver to monitor the traffic behind them without turning their head.

4. Optical Instruments

Plane mirrors are an integral component of various optical instruments, including microscopes and telescopes. In microscopes, mirrors are used to direct light towards the specimen, enhancing visibility and magnification. Telescopes utilize plane mirrors to reflect and focus light, enabling astronomers to observe distant celestial objects.


Q1: Can a plane mirror form a real image?

No, a plane mirror cannot form a real image. It only forms a virtual image that appears to be behind the mirror.

Q2: Why is the image formed by a plane mirror laterally inverted?

The image formed by a plane mirror is laterally inverted because the light rays reflect in such a way that the left side of the object appears on the right side of the image and vice versa.

Q3: How does the distance between the object and the mirror affect the image?

The distance between the object and the mirror does not affect the size or shape of the image. However, it does determine the distance of the image from the mirror, which is equal to the object distance.

Q4: Can a plane mirror magnify or reduce the size of the image?

No, a plane mirror does not magnify or reduce the size of the image. It produces an image that is the same size as the object.

Q5: Are there any distortions in the image formed by a plane mirror?

No, the image formed by a plane mirror is free from any distortions. It provides an accurate reflection of the object without any aberrations.


In conclusion, a plane mirror forms a virtual image that appears to be behind the mirror. The image is laterally inverted, maintaining the same size and shape as the object. It is a valuable tool in personal grooming, periscopes, rearview mirrors, and various optical instruments. Understanding the properties and applications of the image formed by a plane mirror allows us to appreciate its significance in our daily lives and scientific endeavors.

Veer Kapoor
Veer Kapoor
Vееr Kapoor is a tеch еnthusiast and blockchain dеvеlopеr spеcializing in smart contracts and dеcеntralizеd applications. With еxpеrtisе in Solidity and blockchain architеcturе, Vееr has contributеd to innovativе blockchain solutions.

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