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Section 10.

2 Introduction to Conics: Parabolas 733

10.2 INTRODUCTION TO CONICS: PARABOLAS


What you should learn Conics
Recognize a conic as the intersection
of a plane and a double-napped Conic sections were discovered during the classical Greek period, 600 to 300 B.C. The
cone. early Greeks were concerned largely with the geometric properties of conics. It was not
Write equations of parabolas in until the 17th century that the broad applicability of conics became apparent and played
standard form and graph parabolas. a prominent role in the early development of calculus.
Use the reflective property of A conic section (or simply conic) is the intersection of a plane and a double-
parabolas to solve real-life problems. napped cone. Notice in Figure 10.9 that in the formation of the four basic conics, the
intersecting plane does not pass through the vertex of the cone. When the plane
Why you should learn it does pass through the vertex, the resulting figure is a degenerate conic, as shown in
Parabolas can be used to model and Figure 10.10.
solve many types of real-life problems.
For instance, in Exercise 71 on page
739, a parabola is used to model the
cables of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Cosmo Condina/The Image Bank/
Getty Images

Circle Ellipse Parabola Hyperbola


FIGURE 10.9 Basic Conics

Point Line Two Intersecting


FIGURE 10.10 Degenerate Conics Lines

There are several ways to approach the study of conics. You could begin by defining
conics in terms of the intersections of planes and cones, as the Greeks did, or you could
define them algebraically, in terms of the general second-degree equation
Ax 2  Bxy  Cy 2  Dx  Ey  F  0.
However, you will study a third approach, in which each of the conics is defined as a
locus (collection) of points satisfying a geometric property. For example, in Section 1.2,
you learned that a circle is defined as the collection of all points x, y that are equidistant
from a fixed point h, k. This leads to the standard form of the equation of a circle
x  h 2   y  k 2  r 2. Equation of circle
734 Chapter 10 Topics in Analytic Geometry

Parabolas
In Section 2.1, you learned that the graph of the quadratic function
f x  ax2  bx  c
is a parabola that opens upward or downward. The following definition of a parabola is
more general in the sense that it is independent of the orientation of the parabola.

Definition of Parabola
A parabola is the set of all points x, y in a plane that are equidistant from a
fixed line (directrix) and a fixed point (focus) not on the line.

y
The midpoint between the focus and the directrix is called the vertex, and the line
passing through the focus and the vertex is called the axis of the parabola. Note in
Figure 10.11 that a parabola is symmetric with respect to its axis. Using the definition of
d2
a parabola, you can derive the following standard form of the equation of a parabola
Focus
d1 whose directrix is parallel to the x-axis or to the y-axis.
d2
Vertex d1

Directrix Standard Equation of a Parabola


x The standard form of the equation of a parabola with vertex at h, k is as follows.
x  h 2  4p y  k, p  0 Vertical axis, directrix: y  k  p

FIGURE 10.11 Parabola  y  k  4px  h, p  0


2 Horizontal axis, directrix: x  h  p

The focus lies on the axis p units (directed distance) from the vertex. If the
vertex is at the origin 0, 0, the equation takes one of the following forms.
x2  4py Vertical axis

y2  4px Horizontal axis

See Figure 10.12.

For a proof of the standard form of the equation of a parabola, see Proofs in Mathematics
on page 805.

Axis: Axis: x = h Directrix: Directrix: x = h p


x=h Directrix: y = k p x=hp p<0
Focus: p>0
Vertex: (h, k)
(h , k + p )
p<0 Focus:
(h + p, k)
Axis: Axis:
p>0 Focus: y=k y=k
(h + p , k)
Vertex: Directrix: Focus: Vertex:
(h , k) y=kp (h, k + p) Vertex: (h, k) (h, k)
(a) x h2 4p  y k (b) x h2 4p  y k (c)  y k2 4p x h (d)  y k2 4p x h
Vertical axis: p > 0 Vertical axis: p < 0 Horizontal axis: p > 0 Horizontal axis: p < 0
FIGURE 10.12
Section 10.2 Introduction to Conics: Parabolas 735

Example 1 Vertex at the Origin


T E C H N O LO G Y
Find the standard equation of the parabola with vertex at the origin and focus 2, 0.
Use a graphing utility to confirm
the equation found in Example 1. Solution
In order to graph the equation, The axis of the parabola is horizontal, passing through 0, 0 and 2, 0, as shown in
you may have to use two Figure 10.13.
separate equations:
y
y1 8x Upper part

and 2

y2 8x. Lower part


y 2 = 8x
1
Focus
Vertex (2, 0)
x
1 2 3 4
(0, 0)
1

FIGURE 10.13

The standard form is y 2  4px, where h  0, k  0, and p  2. So, the equation is


y 2  8x.
Now try Exercise 23.

Example 2 Finding the Focus of a Parabola


The technique of completing Find the focus of the parabola given by y   12 x 2  x  12.
the square is used to write the
equation in Example 2 in Solution
standard form. You can review To find the focus, convert to standard form by completing the square.
completing the square in
y  2 x 2  x  2
1 1
Appendix A.5. Write original equation.

2y  x 2  2x  1 Multiply each side by 2.


y 1  2y  x2  2x Add 1 to each side.

2
1  1  2y  x 2  2x  1 Complete the square.
Vertex (1, 1) 2  2y  x2  2x  1 Combine like terms.
(
Focus 1, 12 ) 1
2 y  1  x  1 2 Standard form

x Comparing this equation with


3 2 1 1
x  h 2  4p y  k
1
y = 12 x2 x + 1 you can conclude that h  1, k  1, and p   12. Because p is negative,
2
the parabola opens downward, as shown in Figure 10.14. So, the focus of the parabola
2
is h, k  p  1, 12 .
FIGURE 10.14 Now try Exercise 43.
736 Chapter 10 Topics in Analytic Geometry

Example 3 Finding the Standard Equation of a Parabola


y
Find the standard form of the equation of the parabola with vertex 2, 1 and focus
2, 4. Then write the quadratic form of the equation.
8 (x 2)2 = 12(y 1)
6 Focus Solution
4
(2, 4) Because the axis of the parabola is vertical, passing through 2, 1 and 2, 4,
Vertex consider the equation
(2, 1)
x  h 2  4p y  k
x
4 2 2 4 6 8 where h  2, k  1, and p  4  1  3. So, the standard form is
2
x  2 2  12 y  1.
4
You can obtain the more common quadratic form as follows.
FIGURE 10.15 x  22  12 y  1 Write original equation.

x 2  4x  4  12y  12 Multiply.

x 2  4x  16  12y Add 12 to each side.

1 2
x  4x  16  y Divide each side by 12.
Light source 12
at focus
The graph of this parabola is shown in Figure 10.15.
Now try Exercise 55.
Focus Axis
Application
A line segment that passes through the focus of a parabola and has endpoints on the
parabola is called a focal chord. The specific focal chord perpendicular to the axis of
the parabola is called the latus rectum.
Parabolic reflector: Parabolas occur in a wide variety of applications. For instance, a parabolic reflector
Light is reflected
in parallel rays. can be formed by revolving a parabola around its axis. The resulting surface has the
property that all incoming rays parallel to the axis are reflected through the focus of the
FIGURE 10.16
parabola. This is the principle behind the construction of the parabolic mirrors used in
reflecting telescopes. Conversely, the light rays emanating from the focus of a parabolic
Axis reflector used in a flashlight are all parallel to one another, as shown in Figure 10.16.
A line is tangent to a parabola at a point on the parabola if the line intersects, but
P does not cross, the parabola at the point. Tangent lines to parabolas have special properties
related to the use of parabolas in constructing reflective surfaces.
Focus

Reflective Property of a Parabola


Tangent The tangent line to a parabola at a point P makes equal angles with the following
line
two lines (see Figure 10.17).
1. The line passing through P and the focus
2. The axis of the parabola
FIGURE 10.17
Section 10.2 Introduction to Conics: Parabolas 737

y
Example 4 Finding the Tangent Line at a Point on a Parabola
y = x2
1 d2 Find the equation of the tangent line to the parabola given by y  x 2 at the point 1, 1.
(1, 1)
(0, 14 ) Solution
For this parabola, p  14 and the focus is 0, 14 , as shown in Figure 10.18. You can find
1 1
x the y-intercept 0, b of the tangent line by equating the lengths of the two sides of the
d1 isosceles triangle shown in Figure 10.18:
1
d1  b
(0, b) 4
and
10.18

FIGURE

 4 
1 2 5
d2  1  02  1   .
4
Note that d1  14  b rather than b  14. The order of subtraction for the distance is
important because the distance must be positive. Setting d1  d2 produces
1 5
T E C H N O LO G Y b
4 4
Use a graphing utility to confirm b  1.
the result of Example 4. By
graphing So, the slope of the tangent line is
y1 x 2 and y2 2x 1 1  1
m 2
10
in the same viewing window, you
should be able to see that the and the equation of the tangent line in slope-intercept form is
line touches the parabola at the
y  2x  1.
point 1, 1.
Now try Exercise 65.

CLASSROOM DISCUSSION
Satellite Dishes Cross sections of satellite dishes are parabolic in shape. Use the
You can review techniques for figure shown to write a paragraph explaining why satellite dishes are parabolic.
writing linear equations in
Section 1.3.

Amplifier

Dish reflector

Cable to radio
or TV
738 Chapter 10 Topics in Analytic Geometry

10.2 EXERCISES See www.CalcChat.com for worked-out solutions to odd-numbered exercises.


VOCABULARY: Fill in the blanks.
1. A ________ is the intersection of a plane and a double-napped cone.
2. When a plane passes through the vertex of a double-napped cone, the intersection is a ________ ________.
3. A collection of points satisfying a geometric property can also be referred to as a ________ of points.
4. A ________ is defined as the set of all points x, y in a plane that are equidistant from a fixed line, called
the ________, and a fixed point, called the ________, not on the line.
5. The line that passes through the focus and the vertex of a parabola is called the ________ of the parabola.
6. The ________ of a parabola is the midpoint between the focus and the directrix.
7. A line segment that passes through the focus of a parabola and has endpoints on the parabola is called
a ________ ________ .
8. A line is ________ to a parabola at a point on the parabola if the line intersects, but does not cross, the parabola
at the point.

SKILLS AND APPLICATIONS

In Exercises 912, describe in words how a plane could (e) y (f) y


intersect with the double-napped cone shown to form the 4 4
conic section.

x x
6 4 2 4 2 2

13. y 2  4x 14. x 2  2y


15. x 2  8y 16. y 2  12x
17.  y  1 2  4x  3 18. x  3 2  2 y  1
9. Circle 10. Ellipse
11. Parabola 12. Hyperbola In Exercises 1932, find the standard form of the equation of
the parabola with the given characteristic(s) and vertex at the
In Exercises 1318, match the equation with its graph. [The origin.
graphs are labeled (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), and (f).] 19. y 20. y

(a) y (b) y 8
6
(3, 6)
(2, 6)
4 6 4
x
2 4 2 8 4 4

x 2 x
2 6 4 2 2 4 8
2 x
Focus: 0, 2  22. Focus:  2 , 0
4 2 2 4 1 3
21.
(c) y (d) y 23. Focus: 2, 0 24. Focus: 0, 2
2 25. Directrix: y  1 26. Directrix: y  2
2
x 27. Directrix: x  1 28. Directrix: x  3
6 4 2 x
4 4 29. Vertical axis and passes through the point 4, 6
2 30. Vertical axis and passes through the point 3, 3
4
4 31. Horizontal axis and passes through the point 2, 5
6
32. Horizontal axis and passes through the point 3, 2
Section 10.2 Introduction to Conics: Parabolas 739

In Exercises 3346, find the vertex, focus, and directrix of the In Exercises 63 and 64, the equations of a parabola and a
parabola, and sketch its graph. tangent line to the parabola are given. Use a graphing
1 utility to graph both equations in the same viewing window.
33. y  2x 2 34. y  2x 2
Determine the coordinates of the point of tangency.
35. y  6x
2 36. y 2  3x
Parabola Tangent Line
37. x  6y  0
2 38. x  y2  0
63. y2  8x  0 xy20
39. x  1  8 y  2  0
2
64. x  12y  0
2 xy30
40. x  5   y  1 2  0
x  3  4 y  32  x  12 2  4 y  1
2
41. 42. In Exercises 6568, find an equation of the tangent line to
y  4x  2x  5 x  14 y 2  2y  33
1 2
43. 44. the parabola at the given point, and find the x-intercept of
45. y  6y  8x  25  0
2 the line.
46. y 2  4y  4x  0 65. x 2  2y, 4, 8 66. x 2  2y, 3, 92 
67. y  2x 2, 1, 2 68. y  2x 2, 2, 8
In Exercises 4750, find the vertex, focus, and directrix of the
parabola. Use a graphing utility to graph the parabola. 69. REVENUE The revenue R (in dollars) generated by the
sale of x units of a patio furniture set is given by
47.  4x  6y  2  0 48.
x2  2x  8y  9  0
x2
49. y  x  y  0
2 50. y  4x  4  0
2 4
x  1062   R  14,045.
5
In Exercises 5160, find the standard form of the equation of
Use a graphing utility to graph the function and approx-
the parabola with the given characteristics.
imate the number of sales that will maximize revenue.
51. y 52. y
70. REVENUE The revenue R (in dollars) generated by the
(2, 0) (4.5, 4) sale of x units of a digital camera is given by
2 (3, 1)
5
2 4 6
x 4
(5, 3)
x  1352   R  25,515.
7
2 2

4 x Use a graphing utility to graph the function and approx-


2 4 imate the number of sales that will maximize revenue.
y y
71. SUSPENSION BRIDGE Each cable of the Golden
53. 54. Gate Bridge is suspended (in the shape of a parabola)
8 12
(4, 0)
between two towers that are 1280 meters apart. The top
(0, 4) 8 of each tower is 152 meters above the roadway. The
x cables touch the roadway midway between the towers.
(0, 0)
4 8 (a) Draw a sketch of the bridge. Locate the origin of a
x
4 8 rectangular coordinate system at the center of the
8 4 (3, 3) roadway. Label the coordinates of the known points.
55. Vertex: 4, 3; focus: 6, 3 (b) Write an equation that models the cables.
56. Vertex: 1, 2; focus: 1, 0 (c) Complete the table by finding the height y of the
suspension cables over the roadway at a distance of
57. Vertex: 0, 2; directrix: y  4 x meters from the center of the bridge.
58. Vertex: 1, 2; directrix: y  1
59. Focus: 2, 2; directrix: x  2 Distance, x Height, y
60. Focus: 0, 0; directrix: y  8
0
In Exercises 61 and 62, change the equation of the parabola 100
so that its graph matches the description. 250
61.  y  3 2  6x  1; upper half of parabola 400
500
62.  y  1 2  2x  4; lower half of parabola
740 Chapter 10 Topics in Analytic Geometry

72. SATELLITE DISH The receiver in a parabolic satellite 75. BEAM DEFLECTION A simply supported beam is
dish is 4.5 feet from the vertex and is located at the 12 meters long and has a load at the center (see figure).
focus (see figure). Write an equation for a cross section The deflection of the beam at its center is 2 centimeters.
of the reflector. (Assume that the dish is directed upward Assume that the shape of the deflected beam is parabolic.
and the vertex is at the origin.) (a) Write an equation of the parabola. (Assume that the
y origin is at the center of the deflected beam.)
(b) How far from the center of the beam is the deflection
equal to 1 centimeter?
Receiver
4.5 ft
2 cm
x

73. ROAD DESIGN Roads are often designed with


parabolic surfaces to allow rain to drain off. A particular 12 m
road that is 32 feet wide is 0.4 foot higher in the center Not drawn to scale

than it is on the sides (see figure).


76. BEAM DEFLECTION Repeat Exercise 75 if the length
of the beam is 16 meters and the deflection of the beam
at the center is 3 centimeters.
77. FLUID FLOW Water is flowing from a horizontal pipe
48 feet above the ground. The falling stream of water
has the shape of a parabola whose vertex 0, 48 is at the
end of the pipe (see figure). The stream of water strikes
the ground at the point 10 3, 0. Find the equation of
the path taken by the water.
32 ft 0.4 ft y
Not drawn to scale
y
Cross section of road surface 16 (0, 16)

(a) Find an equation of the parabola that models the 40


road surface. (Assume that the origin is at the 30
48 ft ( 2, 6) (2, 6)
center of the road.) 20
10 4
(b) How far from the center of the road is the road
surface 0.1 foot lower than in the middle? x x
10 20 30 40 8 4 4 8
74. HIGHWAY DESIGN Highway engineers design a
parabolic curve for an entrance ramp from a straight FIGURE FOR 77 FIGURE FOR 78
street to an interstate highway (see figure). Find an 78. LATTICE ARCH A parabolic lattice arch is 16 feet
equation of the parabola. high at the vertex. At a height of 6 feet, the width of the
y lattice arch is 4 feet (see figure). How wide is the lattice
Interstate arch at ground level?
800
(1000, 800) 79. SATELLITE ORBIT A satellite in a 100-mile-high
400
circular orbit around Earth has a velocity of
approximately 17,500 miles per hour. If this velocity is
multiplied by 2, the satellite will have the minimum
x
400 800 1200 1600
velocity necessary to escape Earths gravity and it will
follow a parabolic path with the center of Earth as the
400 focus (see figure on the next page).

(1000, 800)
800 Street
Section 10.2 Introduction to Conics: Parabolas 741

Circular y 85. Let x1, y1 be the coordinates of a point on the parabola
Parabolic
orbit x 2  4py. The equation of the line tangent to the
path
parabola at the point is
4100
miles x1
x y  y1  x  x1.
2p
What is the slope of the tangent line?
Not drawn to scale

FIGURE FOR 79 86. CAPSTONE Explain what each of the following


equations represents, and how equations (a) and (b)
(a) Find the escape velocity of the satellite.
are equivalent.
(b) Find an equation of the parabolic path of the satel-
(a) y  ax  h2  k, a  0
lite (assume that the radius of Earth is 4000 miles).
(b) x  h2  4py  k, p  0
80. PATH OF A SOFTBALL The path of a softball is
modeled by 12.5 y  7.125  x  6.252, where (c)  y  k2  4px  h, p  0
the coordinates x and y are measured in feet, with x  0
corresponding to the position from which the ball was
87. GRAPHICAL REASONING Consider the parabola
thrown.
x 2  4py.
(a) Use a graphing utility to graph the trajectory of the
(a) Use a graphing utility to graph the parabola for
softball.
p  1, p  2, p  3, and p  4. Describe the
(b) Use the trace feature of the graphing utility to effect on the graph when p increases.
approximate the highest point and the range of the
(b) Locate the focus for each parabola in part (a).
trajectory.
(c) For each parabola in part (a), find the length of the
PROJECTILE MOTION In Exercises 81 and 82, consider latus rectum (see figure). How can the length of the
the path of a projectile projected horizontally with a velocity latus rectum be determined directly from the
of v feet per second at a height of s feet, where the model for standard form of the equation of the parabola?
the path is y

v2 Latus
x2  y s. rectum
16
Focus
In this model (in which air resistance is disregarded), y is the x 2 = 4py
height (in feet) of the projectile and x is the horizontal x
distance (in feet) the projectile travels.
81. A ball is thrown from the top of a 100-foot tower with a
velocity of 28 feet per second. (d) Explain how the result of part (c) can be used as a
sketching aid when graphing parabolas.
(a) Find the equation of the parabolic path.
88. GEOMETRY The area of the shaded region in the
(b) How far does the ball travel horizontally before 8
figure is A  3 p12 b 32.
striking the ground?
y
82. A cargo plane is flying at an altitude of 30,000 feet and
a speed of 540 miles per hour. A supply crate is dropped x 2 = 4py
from the plane. How many feet will the crate travel
horizontally before it hits the ground?
y=b
EXPLORATION

TRUE OR FALSE? In Exercises 83 and 84, determine x


whether the statement is true or false. Justify your answer.
83. It is possible for a parabola to intersect its directrix. (a) Find the area when p  2 and b  4.
84. If the vertex and focus of a parabola are on a horizontal (b) Give a geometric explanation of why the area
line, then the directrix of the parabola is vertical. approaches 0 as p approaches 0.