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Question

Explain the formation of a mirage?


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Solution

Step 1: Definition of mirage

  1. Mirage is an optical phenomenon that generates an illusion of a water layer at short distances, on long straight roads.
  2. Mirage is mostly experienced on sunny days when the ground is hot and the surrounding air is cool.
  3. This is caused due to the atmospheric refraction, between different layers of air and gives us a watery presence.

Step 2: Mirage formation

  1. When the light rays travel straight through the atmosphere, at different speeds through the hot and cold air.
  2. As we all know for a mirage to occur, the ground should be very hot and the surrounding air should be cold.
  3. The layer which is above the ground gets warmed and when the light ray moves through the cold air, into the hot air layer, light rays get refracted (bent).
  4. The warm layer at the ground refracts, these light rays into a ‘U’ shaped bend and resulting in a water layer.

Step 3: Diagram representing mirage formation.

So, the mirage is formed due to total internal reflection.


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