# Hyperbola

Did you know that the orbit of a spacecraft can sometimes be a hyperbola?

A spacecraft can use the gravity of a planet to alter its path and propel it at high speed away from the planet and back out into space using a technique called "gravitational slingshot".

If this happens, then the path of the spacecraft is a **hyperbola**.

(See this happen in Gravity Freeplay)

## Definition

A hyperbola is a curve where the distances of any point from:

- a fixed point (the
**focus**), and - a fixed straight line (the
**directrix**) are always in the same ratio.

This ratio is called the eccentricity, and for a hyperbola it is always greater than 1.

The hyperbola is an open curve (has no ends).

But that isn't the full story! Because a hyperbola is actually **two separate curves** in mirror image like this:

On the diagram you can see:

- a
**directrix**and a**focus**(one on each side) - an
**axis of symmetry**(that goes through each focus, at right angles to the directrix) - two
**vertices**(where each curve makes its sharpest turn)

The "asymptotes" (shown on the diagram) are not part of the hyperbola, but show where the curve would go if continued indefinitely in each of the four directions.

And, strictly speaking, there is also **another axis of symmetry** that reflects the two separate curves of the hyperbola.

## Conic SectionYou can also get a hyperbola when you slice through a cone. The slice must be steeper than that for a parabola, but does not So the hyperbola is a conic section (a section of a cone). |

## Equation

By placing a hyperbola on an x-y graph (centered over the x-axis and y-axis), the equation of the curve is:

\frac{x^{2}}{a^{2}} − \frac{y^{2}}{b^{2}} = 1

Also: One The - y = (b/a)x
- y = −(b/a)x
And the equation is also similar to the equation of the ellipse: |

## Eccentricity

We already mentioned the eccentricity (usually shown as the letter e), it shows how "uncurvy" (varying from being a circle) the hyperbola is.

On this diagram:

- P is a point on the curve,
- F is the focus and
- N is the point on the directrix so that PN is perpendicular to the directrix.

The ratio PF/PN is the **eccentricity** of the hyperbola (for a hyperbola the eccentricity is always greater than 1).

It also has the formula:

e = \frac{√(a^{2}+b^{2})}{a}

Using "a" and "b" from the diagram above.

## Latus Rectum

The Latus Rectum is the line through the focus and parallel to the directrix. The length of the Latus Rectum is 2b |