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Lesson 7.

3 The Parabola

A. Geometric Definition of a Parabola


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

B. Graph of a parabola using the focus and directrix

The vertex V lies halfway between the focus and the directrix.
The axis of symmetry is the line that runs through the focus (and vertex)
perpendicular to the directrix.
Sketch the parabola with a focus, directrix and axis of symmetry below:

C. Parabola with a Vertical Axis


The graph of the equation
x 2 4ay
is a parabola with the following properties.
V 0, 0
Vertex

F 0, a
y a
4a
Latus Rectum
*The latus rectum (or focal diameter) lets us determine the width of
the parabola correctly. First, find a. Then, go out a distance of 2a
units on either side of the focus that you graphed. Plot a point on
either side of the focus. Since you have gone 2a units out on either
side of the focus, the entire length of the focal diameter is 4a units.
Focus
Directrix

The parabola opens upward if a > 0 or downward if a < 0.


Graph 1 (opens upward)
Graph 2 (opens downward)

Lesson 7.3 The Parabola

D. Parabola with a Horizontal Axis


The graph of the equation
y 2 4ax
is a parabola with the following properties.
V 0, 0
Vertex

Focus
Directrix

F a,0
x a

The parabola opens right if a > 0 or left if a < 0.


Graph 1 (opens right )
Graph 2 (opens left)

E. Parabola with a Vertex at (h, k)


For graphs that have the following equation: y k 4ax h opens right
Vertex
(h, k )
h a, k
Focus
Directrix
x ha
4a
Latus Rectum
2

For graphs that have the following equation: y k 4ax h opens left
Vertex
(h, k )
h a, k
Focus
Directrix
x ha
4a
Latus Rectum
2

For graphs that have the following equation: x h 4a y k opens up


Vertex
(h, k )
h, k a
Focus
Directrix
y k a
4a
Latus Rectum
2

For graphs that have the following equation: x h 4a y k opens down


Vertex
(h, k )
h, k a
Focus
Directrix
y k a
4a
Latus Rectum
2

Lesson 7.3 The Parabola


Find the equation of the parabola described. Find the two
points that define the latus rectum, and graph the equation.
1. Focus at (0, 2); vertex at (0, 0) Video tutorial
Equation:

Directrix:

Latus Rectum:

2.

Focus at (4, 0); vertex at (0, 0) Video tutorial

Equation:

Directrix:

Latus Rectum:

Lesson 7.3 The Parabola


Find the equation of the parabola described. Find the two
points that define the latus rectum, and graph the equation.

3.

Focus at (0, -1); directrix the line y 1 Video tutorial

Equation:

Directrix:

Latus Rectum:

4. Vertex at (4, -2); focus at (6, -2) Video tutorial


Equation:

Directrix:

Latus Rectum:

Lesson 7.3 The Parabola


Find the equation of the parabola described. Find the two
points that define the latus rectum, and graph the equation.
5. Vertex at (3, 0); focus at (3, -2)

Video tutorial

Equation:

Directrix:

Latus Rectum:

6.

Focus at (-4, 4); directrix the line y = 2. Video tutorial

Equation:

Directrix:

Latus Rectum:

Lesson 7.3 The Parabola


Find the vertex, focus, and directrix of each parabola. Graph
the equation.
7. x 42 16 y 2 Video tutorial
Vertex:

Focus:

Directrix:

Latus Rectum:

8. y 1

4x 2 Video tutorial

Vertex:

Focus:

Directrix:

Latus Rectum:

Lesson 7.3 The Parabola


Find the vertex, focus, and directrix of each parabola. Graph
the equation.

9.

x 2 6 x 4 y 1 0 Video tutorial

Equation:

Vertex:

Focus:

Directrix:

Latus Rectum:

Lesson 7.3 The Parabola


Find the vertex, focus, and directrix of each parabola. Graph
the equation.

10.

y 2 6 y x 3 Video tutorial

Equation:

Vertex:

Focus:

Directrix:

Latus Rectum:

Lesson 7.3 The Parabola

Write the equation for each parabola.


11.

Video tutorial

12.
.

Video
tutorial

Lesson 7.3 The Parabola

Solve the problem.


13. Satellite Dish
A satellite dish is shaped like a paraboloid of revolution. The signals that
emanate from a satellite strike the surface of the dish and are reflected to a single
point, where the receiver is located. If the dish is 8 feet across at its opening and
3 feet deep at its center, at what position should the receiver be placed? That is,
where is the focus?
Video tutorial

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Lesson 7.3 The Parabola

14. Suspension Bridge


The cables of a suspension bridge are in the shape of a parabola. The towers
supporting the cable are 400 feet apart and 100 feet high. If the cables are at a
height of 10 feet midway between the towers, what is the height of the cable at a
point 50 feet from the center of the bridge?

Video tutorial
.

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