A parabolic headlight is formed by revolving the parabola y^2 = 15x between the lines y = -3 and y = 3 about its line of symmetry. Where should the headlight bulb be placed for maximum illumination?

Expert Answers
crmhaske eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Maximum illumination will be achieved if the bulb is placed at the focus of the parabola created by the cross-section of the headlight.

If we rearrange the equation we know that:

`x=1/15y^2` , therefore, a = 1/15

The focus of a parabola is located at:


If we place the vertex of the parabola at the origin (0,0) for simplicity this gives:


Substituting our known value of a we get:


Therefore, the bulb should be placed 3.75 units to the right of the vertex.