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# Difference between Real and Virtual Images

• Difficulty Level : Basic
• Last Updated : 23 Mar, 2023

Real and Virtual Images are the two types of images formed by the reflection and refraction of light rays. The key difference between real and virtual images is that the real image is formed by the actual intersection of light rays after reflection or refraction of light, while the virtual images are formed when light rays appear to meet at a point in the area beyond the mirror. Hence, to obtain a real image, the light rays converge while to obtain a virtual image, the light rays diverge. Read more about the real and virtual image, their formation, examples, etc, and the differences between the real and virtual images in this article.

## Real Image

Real image is defined as the image formed by the convergence of light rays when reflected or refracted from a plane mirror, spherical mirror, spherical lens, or object.

The real image is formed in front of the mirror and is always located at the plane of convergence of emitted light rays from the source. Real images are formed at a position where light rays intersect each other. Real images are inverted in nature. They can be seen on the screen.

Consider placing an object in front of the concave mirror, and light striking the surface of the concave mirror after being reflected from the object. Following the rules of reflection, when several light rays strike the mirror, they are all reflected once more and come together at a point in front of the mirror.

Read More: Concave and Convex Mirrors

### Ray Diagram of Real Image

The figure below illustrates the above-discussed phenomenon of real images:

As we can see in this example, light rays are doing, in reality, converge at a certain point. A flow diagram of that object is then produced at that actual position. It should be noted that the rays diverge from a place where they had previously converged.

### Real Images Examples

Various examples where real images are formed are,

• Images formed on the movie screen.
• Image formed by the pinhole cameras.
• Images formed on the retina of the eyes.

## Virtual Image

Virtual image is defined as the image formed by the divergence of light when reflected or refracted from a plane mirror, spherical mirror, spherical lens, or object.

Virtual images are images that only appear to be produced at the position behind a mirror. However, it is not present there actually. Contrary to real images, a virtual image is created when reflected or refracted light rays get diverged. But here light from an object is allowed to hit the mirror and when light rays get reflected from the mirror then it looks like the rays are diverging somewhere behind the mirror.

### Ray Diagram of Virtual Image

The figure below illustrates the above-discussed phenomenon of virtual images:

Since there is essentially no light coming from behind the mirror, it is always said that the rays seem to meet somewhere. However, this is only the viewer’s viewpoint. Virtual images cannot be displayed on the screen due to this. Plane mirrors produce images that are specifically of the virtual type.

Another important factor to think about is that virtual images are real. Consequently, they have a particular shape and size and can be observed with the naked eye or any optical device.

### Virtual Image Examples

Various examples where virtual images are formed,

• Image formed by the Plain Mirror.
• Image formed in the rearview mirror of the vehicle.

## Differences Between Real and Virtual Images

Here are some key differences between virtual and real images formed after reflection and refraction flight rays:

## FAQs on Real and Virtual Images

### Question 1: What are real images?

The images formed when actual light rays meet at a point are called real images. These images can be obtained on the screen.

### Question 2: What are virtual images?

The images which are formed behind the mirror when it seems that light rays meet behind the mirror even though they never meet in reality are called virtual images. Virtuals images can not be obtained on the screen.

### Question 3: Why virtual images are called so?

Since virtual images are formed by the imaginary or virtual intersection of light rays, due to which they are called virtual images.

### Question 4: Why real images are always inverted?

This is because of the fact that real image are formed when the light rays are converged. The real images are always formed below the principal axis and are always formed inverted.

### Question 5: What are some examples of Real and Virtual Images?

An example of Real image is the Image formed on the cinema screen. Also, image formed after the reflection of light from a plane mirror is an example of virtual image.