Intersection of Two Spheres
Date: 10/13/2003 at 10:48:31 From: D.S. Subject: Intersection of 2 spheres I was able to figure out from your previous answers how to find the intersecting point when we have 3 spheres: (x-x1)^2 + (y-y1)^2 + (z-z1)^2 = R1^2 (x-x2)^2 + (y-y2)^2 + (z-z2)^2 = R2^2 (x-x3)^2 + (y-y3)^2 + (z-z3)^2 = R3^2 Now I'm trying to figure out how to find the equation of the intersecting circle when I have 2 spheres: (x-x1)^2 + (y-y1)^2 + (z-z1)^2 = R1^2 (x-x2)^2 + (y-y2)^2 + (z-z2)^2 = R2^2 I would like to display this circle as the illustration to the intermediate step before displaying the final intersection point that is created by 3 spheres. Hence, I would also need to find the equation for the radius of the circle. The equation for the intersecting circle should look something like (x-a)^2 + (y-b)^2 = r^2 although it won't, in general, be parallel to the x-y plane. I would greatly appreciate your help! D.S.
Date: 10/13/2003 at 13:05:38 From: Doctor Rob Subject: Re: Intercection of 2 spheres Thanks for writing to Ask Dr. Math, D.S.! Curves in 3-space are generally described by a pair of simultaneous equations, rather than a single equation. A single equation generally describes a surface, not a curve. That means that an equation of the form (x-a)^2 + (y-b)^2 = r^2 cannot be expected to appear for your circle, unless the other equation is something like z = c. This works for circles whose plane is parallel to the xy-plane, but not otherwise. To find the intersection point of three spheres whose equations are those you gave above, pick one of the equations and subtract it from the other two. That will make those other two equations into linear equations in the three unknowns. Use them to find two of the variables as linear expressions in the third. These two equations are those of a line in 3-space, which passes through the two points of intersection of the three spheres. Then substitute these into the equation of any of the original spheres. This will give you a quadratic equation in one variable, which you can solve to find the two roots. These values will allow you to determine the corresponding values of the other two variables, giving you the coordinates of the two intersection points. For the intersection of two spheres, you can subtract one equation from the other, to get a linear equation in the three variables. This is the equation of the plane in which the intersecting circle lies. This you can put in the standard form a*x + b*y + c*z = d. Next, you can find the line through the center of the circle by finding the line through the center of the first sphere which is perpendicular to the above plane, in the form of the parametric equations x = x1 + a*t, y = y1 + b*t, z = z1 + c*t. Substituting this into the equation of the plane will give you one equation in the parameter t, which you can solve for t = t0, and find the coordinates (x1+a*t0, y1+b*t0, z1+c*t0) of the center of the circle. To find its radius r, r^2 = R1^2 - (a^2+b^2+c^2)*t0^2. Feel free to write again if I can help further. - Doctor Rob, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
Date: 10/13/2003 at 14:33:34 From: D.S. Subject: Thank you (Intercection of 2 spheres) Thanks so much for your prompt answer. It helped me a great deal. Best regards, D.S.
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