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Ellipses Not Centered at the Origin

Write and graph equations of ellipses with centers not at (0, 0)

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Ellipses Centered at (h, k)

Your homework assignment is to draw the ellipse 16(x-2)^2+4(y+3)^2=144 . What is the vertex of your graph and where will the foci of the ellipse be located?


Just like in the previous lessons, an ellipse does not always have to be placed with its center at the origin. If the center is (h, k) the entire ellipse will be shifted h units to the left or right and k units up or down. The equation becomes \frac{\left(x-h\right)^2}{a^2}+ \frac{\left(y-k\right)^2}{b^2}=1 . We will address how the vertices, co-vertices, and foci change in the next example.

Example A

Graph \frac{\left(x-3\right)^2}{16}+ \frac{\left(y+1\right)^2}{4}=1 . Then, find the vertices, co-vertices, and foci.

Solution: First, we know this is a horizontal ellipse because 16 > 4 . Therefore, the center is (3, -1) and a = 4 and b = 2 . Use this information to graph the ellipse.

To graph, plot the center and then go out 4 units to the right and left and then up and down two units. This is also how you can find the vertices and co-vertices. The vertices are (3 \pm 4,-1) or (7, -1) and (-1, -1) . The co-vertices are (3,-1 \pm 2) or (3, 1) and (3, -3) .

To find the foci, we need to find c using c^2=a^2-b^2 .

c^2&=16-4=12 \\c&=2\sqrt{3}

Therefore, the foci are \left(3 \pm 2\sqrt{3},-1\right) .

From this example, we can create formulas for finding the vertices, co-vertices, and foci of an ellipse with center (h, k) . Also, when graphing an ellipse, not centered at the origin, make sure to plot the center.

Orientation Equation Vertices Co-Vertices Foci
Horizontal \frac{\left(x-h\right)^2}{a^2}+ \frac{\left(y-k\right)^2}{b^2}=1 (h \pm a,k) (h,k \pm b) (h \pm c,k)
Vertical \frac{\left(x-h\right)^2}{b^2}+ \frac{\left(y-k\right)^2}{a^2}=1 (h,k \pm a) (h \pm b,k) (h,k \pm c)

Example B

Find the equation of the ellipse with vertices (-3, 2) and (7, 2) and co-vertex (2, -1) .

Solution: These two vertices create a horizontal major axis, making the ellipse horizontal. If you are unsure, plot the given information on a set of axes. To find the center, use the midpoint formula with the vertices.

\left(\frac{-3+7}{2}, \frac{2+2}{2}\right)= \left(\frac{4}{2}, \frac{4}{2}\right)=(2,2)

The distance from one of the vertices to the center is a , \left |7-2 \right \vert=5 . The distance from the co-vertex to the center is b , \left |-1-2 \right \vert=3 . Therefore, the equation is \frac{\left(x-2\right)^2}{5^2}+ \frac{\left(y-2\right)^2}{3^2}=1 or \frac{\left(x-2\right)^2}{25}+ \frac{\left(y-2\right)^2}{9}=1 .

Example C

Graph 49(x-5)^2+25(y+2)^2=1225 and find the foci.

Solution: First we have to get this into standard form, like the equations above. To make the right side 1, we need to divide everything by 1225.

\frac{49\left(x-5\right)^2}{1225}+ \frac{25\left(y+2\right)^2}{1225}&=\frac{1225}{1225} \\\frac{\left(x-5\right)^2}{25}+ \frac{\left(y+2\right)^2}{49}&=1

Now, we know that the ellipse will be vertical because 25 < 49 . a = 7, b = 5 and the center is (5, -2) .

To find the foci, we first need to find c by using c^2=a^2-b^2 .

c^2&=49-25=24 \\c&=\sqrt{24}=2\sqrt{6}

The foci are \left(5,-2 \pm 2\sqrt{6}\right) or (5, -6.9) and (5, 2.9) .

Intro Problem Revisit We first need to get our equation in the form of \frac{\left(x-h\right)^2}{a^2}+ \frac{\left(y-k\right)^2}{b^2}=1 . So we divide both sides by 144.

\frac{16(x-2)^2}{144} + \frac{4(y+3)^2}{144} = \frac{144}{144}\\\frac{(x-2)^2}{9} + \frac{(y + 3)^2}{36} .

Now we can see that h = 2 and 3 = -k or k = -3 . Therefore the origin is (2, -3) .

Because 9 < 36 , we know this is a vertical ellipse. To find the foci, use c^2=a^2-b^2 .

c^2&=36-9=27 \\c&=\sqrt{27}=3\sqrt{3}

The foci are therefore \left(0,3\sqrt{3}\right) and \left(0,-3\sqrt{3}\right) .

Guided Practice

1. Find the center, vertices, co-vertices and foci of \frac{\left(x+4\right)^2}{81}+ \frac{\left(y-7\right)^2}{16}=1 .

2. Graph 25(x-3)^2+4(y-1)^2=100 and find the foci.

3. Find the equation of the ellipse with co-vertices (-3, -6) and (5, -6) and focus (1, -2) .


1. The center is (-4, 7),a=\sqrt{81}=9 and b=\sqrt{16}=4 , making the ellipse horizontal. The vertices are (-4 \pm 9,7) or (-13, 7) and (5, 7) . The co-vertices are (-4,7 \pm 4) or (-4, 3) and (-4, 11) . Use c^2=a^2-b^2 to find c .


The foci are \left(-4- \sqrt{65},7\right) and \left(-4+ \sqrt{65},7\right) .

2. Change this equation to standard form in order to graph.

\frac{25\left(x-3\right)^2}{100}+ \frac{4\left(y-1\right)^2}{100}&=\frac{100}{100} \\\frac{\left(x-3\right)^2}{4}+ \frac{\left(y-1\right)^2}{25}&=1

center: (3, 1), b = 2, a = 5

Find the foci.

c^2&=25-4=21 \\c&=\sqrt{21}

The foci are \left(3,1+ \sqrt{21}\right) and \left(3,1- \sqrt{21}\right) .

3. The co-vertices (-3, -6) and (5, -6) are the endpoints of the minor axis. It is \left |-3-5\right \vert=8 units long, making b = 4 . The midpoint between the co-vertices is the center.


The focus is (1, -1) and the distance between it and the center is 4 units, or c . Find a .

16&=a^2-16 \\32&=a^2 \\a&=\sqrt{32}=4\sqrt{2}

The equation of the ellipse is \frac{\left(x-1\right)^2}{16}+ \frac{\left(y+6\right)^2}{32}=1 .


Standard Form (of an Ellipse)
\frac{\left(x-h\right)^2}{a^2}+ \frac{\left(y-k\right)^2}{b^2}=1 or \frac{\left(x-h\right)^2}{b^2}+ \frac{\left(y-k\right)^2}{a^2}=1 where (h, k) is the center.


Find the center, vertices, co-vertices, and foci of each ellipse below.

  1. \frac{\left(x+5\right)^2}{25}+ \frac{\left(y+1\right)^2}{36}=1
  2. (x+2)^2+16(y-6)^2=16
  3. \frac{\left(x-2\right)^2}{9}+\frac{\left(y-3\right)^2}{49}=1
  4. 25x^2+64(y-6)^2=1600
  5. (x-8)^2+ \frac{\left(y-4\right)^2}{9}=1
  6. 81(x+4)^2+4(y+5)^2=324
  7. Graph the ellipse in #1.
  8. Graph the ellipse in #2.
  9. Graph the ellipse in #4.
  10. Graph the ellipse in #5.

Using the information below, find the equation of each ellipse.

  1. vertices: (-2, -3) and (8, -3) co-vertex: (3, -5)
  2. vertices: (5, 6) and (5, -12) focus: (5, -7)
  3. co-vertices: (0, 4) and (14, 4) focus: (7, 1)
  4. foci: (-11, -4) and (1, -4) vertex: (-12, -4)
  5. Extension Rewrite the equation of the ellipse, 36x^2+25y^2-72x+200y-464=0 in standard form, by completing the square for both the x and y terms.

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