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Section 6-5: Parabolas

A parabola is the set of all points P in the plane that are equidistant from a fixed point F (focus) and a fixed line d (directrix).

Demonstration of Focus Point for a Parabola (Manipula Math) Drawing a Parabola (Manipula Math)

The equations of the parabola are as follows:

For parabolas opening up/down, the directrix is a horizontal line in the form y = + p For parabolas opening right/left, the directrix is a vertical line in the form x=+p The vertex point for all of the above is (0, 0) Sample Problems 1. 1) Find the focus point and directrix and graph the parabola: y = x2/8

Solution: The parabola opens up. 1/4p = 1/8 means 4p = 8 and p = 2. This is the distance from the vertex to the directrix or to the focus point. The focus point is 2 units up so it is (0, 2). The directrix is a horizontal line 2 units down from the vertex. The equation is y = -2

To determine how wide the parabola opens, the distance |4p| is the distance of the chord connecting the two sides of the parabola through the focus point perpendicular to the axis of symmetry. In this case 4p = 8, so the parabola is 4 units from the focus point both right and left. The two points are given on the graph. 2) Find the focus point and the directrix and graph the parabola: x = -2y2
Solution: This parabola opens to the left. 1/4p = -2 -8p = 1 p = -1/8 The focus point is at (-1/8, 0) and the directrix is a vertical line at x = 1/8 The distance across the parabola through the focus is 1/2, so the parabola is one-fourth unit up and down from the focus point.

3) Find the equation of the parabola with vertex at (0, 0) and directrix y = 2. Solution: Since the directrix is a horizontal line and is above the vertex, the parabola opens down. p = 2 (distance from directrix to vertex), so 4p = 8. Thus the equation is y = -(1/8)x2 3. 4) Find the equation of a parabola with focus at (2, 0) and directrix at x = -2 Solution: The vertex for this parabola is inbetween the directrix and focus. So the vertex is (0, 0). The parabola opens to the right with p = 2. So 4p = 8. Thus the equation is x = (1/8)y2

2.

Translations of the parabola The equations of the parabola with vertex (h, k) are:

4.

5) Find the vertex, focus and directrix and graph the parabola y = 2x2 - 8x + 1 Solution: Put the equation in the correct form. y - 1 = 2(x2 - 4x ) Complete the square y - 1 + 8 = 2(x2 - 4x + 4) added 8 to both sides! y + 7 = 2(x - 2)2 The parabola opens up with vertex at (2, -7) 1/4p = 2 8p = 1 p = 1/8 Focus point at (2, -6 7/8) directrix at y = -7 1/8

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6) Find the equation of the parabola with focus ( 1, 3) and directrix x = -3. Solution: The parabola opens to the right. The vertex is midway between the focus and directrix. The vertex is at (-1, 3). p = 2 so 4p = 8 The equation is: (x + 1) = (1/8)(y - 3)2

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Section 6-4: Hyperbolas


Definition of the hyperbola A hyperbola is the set of all points P(x, y) in the plane such that

| PF1 - PF2 | = 2a
Again F1 and F2 are focus points. This time the difference of these distances remain a constant at 2a. The explanation is similar to that of the ellipse. Since the ellipse is the sum of the distances and the hyperbola is the difference of the distances, the equations are very similar. They differ only in the sign and the longest side for a hyperbola is c. (Remember for the ellipse it was a)

Drawing a Hyperbola (Manipula Math)

The equation of the above hyperbola would have the form: The hyperbola opens left and right. Notice it comes in two parts. Different than an ellipse which is a closed figure. Hyperbolas can also open up and down. I am sure you can guess at the equation!!

This hyperbola has the form: To get the correct shape of the hyperbola, we need to find the asymptotes of the hyperbola. The asymptotes are lines that are approached but not touched or crossed. These asymptotes are boundaries of the hyperbola. This is one difference between a hyperbola and a parabola. For the hyperbolas that open right/left, the asymptotes are: and for hyperbolas opening up/down, the asymptotes are:

To form the asymptotes easily on the graph, all we need do is form a rectangle using a and b.

Sample Problems 6. 1) Graph the hyperbola x2/16 - y2/4 = 1 Find the vertices, foci and equations of the asymptotic lines. Solution: This hyperbola opens right/left because it is in the form x - y. a2 = 16, b2 = 4, c2 = 16 + 4 = 20. Therefore, a = 4, b = 2 and c = 4.5 Vertices: (4, 0) and (-4, 0) Foci: (4.5, 0) and (-4.5, 0) Equations of asymptotic lines: y = .5x and y = - .5x

To graph the hyperbola, go 2 units up/down from center point and 4 units left/right from center point.

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2) Graph the hyperbola y2/25 - x2/9 = 1. Give the vertices, foci and equations of asymptotic lines. Solution: This hyperbola opens up and down because it is in the form y - x. a2 = 25, b2 = 9 and c2 = 25 + 9 = 34. Thus, a = 5, b = 3, c = 5.8 Vertices: (0, 5) and (0, -5) Foci: (0, 5.8) and (0, -5.8) Equations of asymptotic lines: y = (5/3)x and y = (-5/3)x

The box is formed by going 5 units up/down from center and 3 units left/right from center.

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3) Find an equation of a hyperbola with center at the origin, one vertex at (7, 0) and a focus at (12, 0). Solution: The vertex and focus are on the x-axis, so the hyperbola opens right/left. a = 7, c = 12. That makes a2 = 49, c2 = 144 and b2 = 144 - 49 = 95. Therefore the equation is: x2/49 - y2/95 = 1 Translations of Hyperbolas If the hyperbola opens right/left the translation is:

with the equations of the asymptotic lines as: y - k = + (b/a)(x - h) If the hyperbola opens up/down the translation is:

with the equations of the asymptotic lines as: y - k = + (a/b)(x - h) Sample Problems

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1) Graph the equation: Find the center, vertices, foci and the equations of the asymptotic lines. Solution: Since it is y - x it opens up/down. a2 = 36, b2 = 25 and c2 = 36 + 25 = 61. Thus, a = 6, b = 5 and c = 7.8 Center: (1, 2) Vertices: (1, 8) and (1, -4) ( six units up and down from center) Foci: (1, 9.8) and (1, -5.8) ( 7.8 units up/down from center)

Equations of asymptotic lines: y - 2 = (+6/5)(x - 1) The box is formed by going 6 units up/down and 5 units right/left from center.

10. 2) Find the equation of a hyperbola with center (1, 1), vertex (3, 1) and focus at (5, 1). Solution: The vertex and foci are on the same horizontal line. This makes the hyperbola open right/left. a = 2 (distance from vertex to center), c = 4 (distance from focus to center). Thus a2 = 4, c2 = 16 and b2 = 16 - 4 = 12. The equation is:

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PRACTICE PROBLEMS:

1. Find the equation of the hyperbola with an eccentricity of

, directrices

, and foci at

2. Find the equation of the hyperbola with an eccentricity of 5/3, foci at ( 5,0), and directrices x = 9/5. Find the foci, directrices, eccentricity, equations of the asymptotes, and length of the focal chord of the hyperbolas given in problems 3 and 4.

ANSWERS:

The hyperbola can be represented by an equation in the general form Axe+ C y 2+ D x + E y + F = 0 where the capital letters refer to independent constants and A and C have different signs. These equations can be reduced to standard form in the same manner in which similar equations for the ellipse were reduced to standard form. The standard forms with the center at (h,k) are given by the equations

and

How do we create a hyperbola? Take 2 fixed points A and B and let them be 4a units apart. Now, take half of that distance (i.e. 2a units). Now, move along a curve such that from any point on the curve, (distance to A) (distance to B) = 2a units. The curve that results is called a hyperbola. There are two parts to the curve.

Example 1
Let the distance between our points A and B be 4 cm. For convenience in our first example, let's place our fixed points A and B on the number line at (0, 2) and (0, 2), so they are 4 units apart. In this case, a = 1 cm and 2a = 2 cm.

On this page...
The Equation of a Hyperbola East-West Opening Hyperbola Definition of a Hyperbola

More Forms of the Equation of a Hyperbola Even More Forms of the Equation of a Hyperbola

Applications of Hyperbolas

Navigation: Ship's navigators can plot their position by comparing GPS signals from different satellites. The technique involves hyperbolas. Physics: The movement of objects in space and of subatomic particles trace out hyperbolas in certain situations. Sundials: Historically, sundials made use of hyperbolas. Place a stick in the ground and trace out the path made by the shadow of the tip, and you'll get a hyperbola. Construction: Nuclear power plant smoke stacks have a hyperbolic cross section as illustrated above. Such 3-dimensional objects are called hyperboloids.

Now we start tracing out a curve such that P is a point on the curve, and: distance PB distance PA = 2 cm.

We start at (0, 1). Shown below is one of the points P, such that PB PA = 2.

If we continue, we obtain the blue curve:

Now, continuing our curve on the left side of the axis gives us the following:

We also have another part of the hyperbola on the opposite side of the x-axis, this time using: distance PA distance PB = 2 Once again a typical point P is shown, and we can see from the lengths given that PA PB = 2.

We observe that the curves become almost straight near the extremities. In fact, the lines lines below) are asymptotes:

and

(the red dotted

[An asymptote is a line that forms a "barrier" to a curve. The curve gets closer and closer to an asymptote, but does not touch it.] In Example 1, the points (0, 1) and (0, -1) are called the vertices of the hyperbola, while the points (0, 2) and (0, -2) are the foci (or focuses) of the hyperbola.

The equation of our hyperbola


For the hyperbola with a = 1 that we graphed above in Example 1, the equation is given by:

Notice that it is not a function, since for each x-value, there are two y-values. We call this example a "north-south" opening hyperbola.

Where did this hyperbola equation come from?


The equation follows from the distance formula and the requirement (in this example) that distance PB distance PA = 2. Here's the proof. Proof For any point P(x, y) on the hyperbola,

Since PB PA = 2 in our example, then:

Rearrange:

Square both sides:

Expand brackets and simplify:

Square both sides again:

4y2 4y + 1 = x2 + y2 4y + 4 Simplifying gives the equation of our hyperbola:

The asymptotes (the red dotted boundary lines for the curve) are obtained by setting the above equation equal to 0, rather than 1.

This gives us the 2 lines:

In general
For the hyperbola with focal distance 4a (distance between the 2 foci), and passing through the y-axis at (0, c) and (0, c), we define b2 = c2 a2 Applying the distance formula for the general case, in a similar fashion to the above example, we obtain the general form for a northsouth hyperbola:

Example 2

Here's another example of an "north-south" hyperbola. It's equation is: y2 x2 = 1

Similar to Example 1, this hyperbola passes through 1 and 1 on the y-axis, but it has a different equation and a slightly different shape (and different asymptotes). Where are the 2 foci for this hyperbola? We need to find the value of c. By inspection (of the equation of this hyperbola), we can see a = 1 and b = 1. Using the formula given above, we have: b2 = c2 a2 So

12 = c2 12 c2 = 2 c = 2 So the points A and B (the foci) for this hyperbola are at A (0, 2) and B (0, 2).

East-West Opening Hyperbola


By reversing the x- and y-variables in our second example above, we obtain the following equation.

Example 3
x2 y2 = 1 This gives us an "East-West" opening hyperbola, as follows. Our curve passes through -1 and 1 on the x-axis and once again, the asymptotes are the lines y = x and y = -x.

Technical Definition of a Hyperbola


A hyperbola is the locus of points where the difference in the distance to two fixed foci is constant. This technical definition is one way of describing what we were doing in Example 1, above.

Hyperbolas in Nature

Throw 2 stones in a pond. The resulting concentric ripples meet in a hyperbola shape.

More Forms of the Equation of a Hyperbola


There are a few different formulas for a hyperbola. Considering the hyperbola with centre (0, 0), the equation is either: 1. For a north-south opening hyperbola:

The slopes of the asymptotes are given by:

2. For an east-west opening hyperbola:

The slopes of the asymptotes are given by:

In the examples given above, both a and b were equal to 1, so the slopes of the asymptotes were simply 1 and our asymptotes were the lines y = x and y = -x. What effect does it have if we change a and b?

Example 4
Sketch the hyperbola

Answer First, we recognise that it is a north-south opening hyperbola, with a = 5 and b = 2 . It will look similar to Example 1 above, which was also a north-south opening hyperbola.

We need to find:

The y-intercepts (there are no x-intercepts for this example) The asymptotes

y-intercepts: Simply let x = 0 in the equation given in the question:

We have:

Solving gives us 2 values (as expected): y = -5 and y = 5 Alternatively, we note that the vertices of the hyperbola are a units from the centre of the hyperbola. In this example, it means our vertices will be at x = 0 and y = -5 and y = 5. Aymptotes: We have a north-south opening hyperbola, so the slopes of the asymptotes will be given by

In this example, a = 5 and b = 2. So the slopes of the asymptotes will be simply: -5/2 and 5/2. The equations for the asymptotes, since they pass through (0, 0), are given by:

y = -5x/2 and y = 5x/2 So we are ready to include the above information on our graph:

All that remains is to complete the arms of the hyperbola, making sure that they get closer and closer to the asymptotes, as follows:

Even More Forms of the Equation of a Hyperbola


1. Possibly the simplest equation of a hyperbola is given in the following example.

Example 5 - Equilateral Hyperbola


xy = 1 This is known as the equilateral or rectangular hyperbola.

Notice that this hyperbola is a "north-east, south-west" opening hyperbola. Compared to the other hyperbolas we have seen so far, the axes of the hyperbola have been rotated by 45. Also, the asymptotes are the x- and y-axes.

Hyperbola with axis not at the Origin


2. Our hyperbola may not be centred on (0, 0). In this case, we use the following formulas: For a "north-south" opening hyperbola with centre (h, k), we have:

For an "east-west" opening hyperbola with centre (h, k), we have:

Example 6 - Hyperbola with Axes Shifted


Sketch the hyperbola

Answer 3. We could expand our equations for the hyperbola into the following form: Ax2 + Bxy + Cy2 + Dx + Ey + F = 0 (such that B2 > 4AC) In the earlier examples on this page, there was no xy-term involved. As we saw in Example 4, if we do have an xy-term, it has the effect of rotating the axes. We no longer have "north-south" or "east-west" opening arms - they could open in any direction.

Example 7 - Hyperbola with Shifted and Rotated Axes


The graph of the hyperbola x2 + 5xy 2y2 + 3x + 2y + 1 = 0 is as follows:

We see that the axes of the hyperbola have been rotated and have been shifted from (0, 0). [Further analysis is beyond the scope of this section. ]

Exercise
Sketch the hyperbola

Answer This is an east-west opening hyperbola, with a = 3 and b = 4. It will look similar to the east-west opening Example 2, given above.

x-intercepts: Letting y = 0 in the equation given in the question, and we have:

Solving gives us: x = -3 and x = 3 Aymptotes: We have an east-west opening hyperbola, so the slopes of the asymptotes will be given by

In this example, a = 3 and b = 4. So the slopes of the asymptotes will be simply: -4/3 and 4/3. The equations for the asymptotes, since they pass through (0, 0), are given by: y = -4x/3 and y = 4x/3 Including the above information on our graph:

Completing the hyperbola:

Conic section: Hyperbola


How can we obtain a hyperbola from slicing a cone? We start with a double cone (2 right circular cones placed apex to apex):

When we slice the 2 cones, we get a hyperbola, as shown.