Skip to main content
\(\require{cancel}\)
Physics LibreTexts

4.5: The Hyperboloid

  • Page ID
    6809
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    The Equation

    \[\frac{x^2}{a^2} - \frac{z^2}{c^2} = 1 \label{4.5.1} \]

    is a hyperbola, and \(a\) is the semi transverse axis. (As described in Chapter 2, \(c\) is the semi transverse axis of the conjugate hyperbola.)

    If this figure is rotated about the \(z\)-axis through \(360^\circ\), the surface swept out is a circular hyperboloid (or hyperboloid of revolution) of one sheet. Its Equation is

    \[\frac{x^2}{a^2} + \frac{y^2}{a^2} - \frac{z^2}{c^2} = 1. \label{4.5.2} \]

    Imagine two horizontal rings, one underneath the other. The upper one is fixed. The lower one is suspended from the upper one by a large number of vertical strings attached to points equally spaced around the circumference of each ring. Now twist the lower one through a few degrees about a vertical axis, so that the strings are no longer quite vertical, and the lower ring rises slightly. These strings are generators of a circular hyperboloid of one sheet.

    If the figure is rotated about the \(x\)-axis through \(360^\circ\), the surface swept out is a circular hyperboloid (or hyperboloid of revolution) of two sheets. Its Equation is

    \[\frac{x^2}{a^2} - \frac{y^2}{c^2} - \frac{z^2}{c^2} = 1. \label{4.5.3} \]

    The Equations

    \[\frac{x^2}{a^2} + \frac{y^2}{b^2} - \frac{z^2}{c^2} = 1 \label{4.5.4} \]

    and \[\frac{x^2}{a^2} - \frac{y^2}{b^2} - \frac{z^2}{c^2} = 1 \label{4.5.5} \]

    represent hyperbolas of one and two sheets respectively, but are not hyperbolas of revolution, since their cross sections in the planes \(z =\) constant and \(x =\) constant \(> a\) respectively are ellipses rather than circles. The reader should imagine what the cross- sections of all four hyperboloids are like in the planes \(x = 0, \ y = 0\) and \(z = 0\).


    4.5: The Hyperboloid is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Jeremy Tatum via source content that was edited to conform to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.