# Hyperbola

## Plane curve: conic section / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In mathematics, a **hyperbola** (/haɪˈpɜːrbələ/ ^{ⓘ}; pl. **hyperbolas** or **hyperbolae** /-liː/ ^{ⓘ}; adj. **hyperbolic** /ˌhaɪpərˈbɒlɪk/ ^{ⓘ}) is a type of smooth curve lying in a plane, defined by its geometric properties or by equations for which it is the solution set. A hyperbola has two pieces, called connected components or branches, that are mirror images of each other and resemble two infinite bows. The hyperbola is one of the three kinds of conic section, formed by the intersection of a plane and a double cone. (The other conic sections are the parabola and the ellipse. A circle is a special case of an ellipse.) If the plane intersects both halves of the double cone but does not pass through the apex of the cones, then the conic is a hyperbola.

Besides being a conic section, a hyperbola can arise as the locus of points whose difference of distances to two fixed foci is constant, as a curve for each point of which the rays to two fixed foci are reflections across the tangent line at that point, or as the solution of certain bivariate quadratic equations such as the reciprocal relationship $xy=1.$^{[1]} In practical applications, a hyperbola can arise as the path followed by the shadow of the tip of a sundial's gnomon, the shape of an open orbit such as that of a celestial object exceeding the escape velocity of the nearest gravitational body, or the scattering trajectory of a subatomic particle, among others.

Each branch of the hyperbola has two arms which become straighter (lower curvature) further out from the center of the hyperbola. Diagonally opposite arms, one from each branch, tend in the limit to a common line, called the asymptote of those two arms. So there are two asymptotes, whose intersection is at the center of symmetry of the hyperbola, which can be thought of as the mirror point about which each branch reflects to form the other branch. In the case of the curve $y(x)=1/x$ the asymptotes are the two coordinate axes.^{[2]}

Hyperbolas share many of the ellipses' analytical properties such as eccentricity, focus, and directrix. Typically the correspondence can be made with nothing more than a change of sign in some term. Many other mathematical objects have their origin in the hyperbola, such as hyperbolic paraboloids (saddle surfaces), hyperboloids ("wastebaskets"), hyperbolic geometry (Lobachevsky's celebrated non-Euclidean geometry), hyperbolic functions (sinh, cosh, tanh, etc.), and gyrovector spaces (a geometry proposed for use in both relativity and quantum mechanics which is not Euclidean).