# Real vs. virtual images

I am struggling on one concept that I cant find when doing a thorough search.

System: You have a projector (known to project real images onto a screen). The projector expands light with a lens, the light propagates to a flat mirror on a wall and reflects onto a screen.

Conclusion: Although the image may appear distorted, it is real. It originated from a point and expanded before reflecting onto a screen.

So, if that conclusion is right, then how is it that a flat mirror can be used a system that produces a real image when every definition basically says "no flat mirrors in a real image system"?

If the conclusion is wrong and in the system here the image is now virtual, then should I conclude that anything reflected off a flat mirror is virtual? Also, does this mean that a laser shining on a screen is real but a laser shining off a flat mirror on a screen is virtual (same concept, but just double checking)?

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## Answers and Replies

Khashishi
It can't. Either the mirror is curved, or there is a pinhole you left out.

K^2
When you look through a mirror, you see a virtual image. You aren't looking through a mirror in this setup. You are looking at a screen. Any time you look at an image projected onto a screen, you are looking at a real image.

When you look through a mirror, you see a virtual image. You aren't looking through a mirror in this setup. You are looking at a screen. Any time you look at an image projected onto a screen, you are looking at a real image.

Thanks, I think I understand the concept completely now.

jtbell
Mentor
In your projector, the lens produces the image. The mirror simply redirects the light so the image appears in a different location than it otherwise would. If you remove the mirror, and maybe cut a hole in the projector, you can probably get an image somewhere, maybe on the ceiling or on a different wall.

sophiecentaur