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A sphere () is a geometrical object that is a three-dimensional analogue to a two-dimensional
circle A circle is a shape consisting of all points in a plane that are at a given distance from a given point, the centre. Equivalently, it is the curve traced out by a point that moves in a plane so that its distance from a given point is co ...
. A sphere is the set of points that are all at the same distance from a given point in three-dimensional space.. That given point is the centre of the sphere, and is the sphere's radius. The earliest known mentions of spheres appear in the work of the ancient Greek mathematicians. The sphere is a fundamental object in many fields of
mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in modern mathematics ...
. Spheres and nearly-spherical shapes also appear in nature and industry. Bubbles such as soap bubbles take a spherical shape in equilibrium. The Earth is often approximated as a sphere in
geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia''. Combination of Greek words ‘Geo’ (The Earth) and ‘Graphien’ (to describe), literally "earth description") is a field of science Science is a systematic endeavor that builds and o ...
, and the
celestial sphere In astronomy Astronomy () is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It uses mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes an ...
is an important concept in
astronomy Astronomy () is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It uses mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in w ...
. Manufactured items including pressure vessels and most curved mirrors and lenses are based on spheres. Spheres roll smoothly in any direction, so most balls used in sports and toys are spherical, as are ball bearings.

# Basic terminology

As mentioned earlier is the sphere's radius; any line from the center to a point on the sphere is also called a radius. If a radius is extended through the center to the opposite side of the sphere, it creates a diameter. Like the radius, the length of a diameter is also called the diameter, and denoted . Diameters are the longest line segments that can be drawn between two points on the sphere: their length is twice the radius, =. Two points on the sphere connected by a diameter are antipodal points of each other. A unit sphere is a sphere with unit radius (=1). For convenience, spheres are often taken to have their center at the origin of the coordinate system, and spheres in this article have their center at the origin unless a center is mentioned. A '' great circle'' on the sphere has the same center and radius as the sphere, and divides it into two equal ''hemispheres''. Although the
Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. While large volumes of water can be found throughout the Solar System, only Earth sustains liquid surface water. About 71% of Earth's sur ...
is not perfectly spherical, terms borrowed from geography are convenient to apply to the sphere. If a particular point on a sphere is (arbitrarily) designated as its ''north pole'', its antipodal point is called the ''south pole''. The great circle equidistant to each is then the ''
equator The equator is a circle of latitude, about in circumference, that divides Earth into the Northern and Southern hemispheres. It is an imaginary line located at 0 degrees latitude, halfway between the North and South poles. The term ca ...
''. Great circles through the poles are called lines of
longitude Longitude (, ) is a geographic coordinate that specifies the east– west position of a point on the surface of the Earth, or another celestial body. It is an angular measurement, usually expressed in degrees and denoted by the Greek l ...
or meridians. A line connecting the two poles may be called the axis of rotation. Small circles on the sphere that are parallel to the equator are lines of latitude. In geometry unrelated to astronomical bodies, geocentric terminology should be used only for illustration and ''noted'' as such, unless there is no chance of misunderstanding. Mathematicians consider a sphere to be a two-dimensional closed surface embedded in three-dimensional
Euclidean space Euclidean space is the fundamental space of geometry Geometry (; ) is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structure ...
. They draw a distinction a ''sphere'' and a '' ball'', which is a three-dimensional manifold with boundary that includes the volume contained by the sphere. An ''open ball'' excludes the sphere itself, while a ''closed ball'' includes the sphere: a closed ball is the union of the open ball and the sphere, and a sphere is the boundary of a (closed or open) ball. The distinction between ''ball'' and ''sphere'' has not always been maintained and especially older mathematical references talk about a sphere as a solid. The distinction between "
circle A circle is a shape consisting of all points in a plane that are at a given distance from a given point, the centre. Equivalently, it is the curve traced out by a point that moves in a plane so that its distance from a given point is co ...
" and " disk" in the plane is similar. Small spheres are sometimes called spherules, e.g. in Martian spherules.

# Equations

In analytic geometry, a sphere with center and radius is the locus of all points such that :$\left(x - x_0 \right)^2 + \left(y - y_0 \right)^2 + \left( z - z_0 \right)^2 = r^2.$ Since it can be expressed as a quadratic polynomial, a sphere is a quadric surface, a type of algebraic surface. Let be real numbers with and put :$x_0 = \frac, \quad y_0 = \frac, \quad z_0 = \frac, \quad \rho = \frac.$ Then the equation :$f\left(x,y,z\right) = a\left(x^2 + y^2 +z^2\right) + 2\left(bx + cy + dz\right) + e = 0$ has no real points as solutions if $\rho < 0$ and is called the equation of an imaginary sphere. If $\rho = 0$, the only solution of $f\left(x,y,z\right) = 0$ is the point $P_0 = \left(x_0,y_0,z_0\right)$ and the equation is said to be the equation of a point sphere. Finally, in the case $\rho > 0$, $f\left(x,y,z\right) = 0$ is an equation of a sphere whose center is $P_0$ and whose radius is $\sqrt \rho$. If in the above equation is zero then is the equation of a plane. Thus, a plane may be thought of as a sphere of infinite radius whose center is a point at infinity..

## Parametric

A parametric equation for the sphere with radius $r > 0$ and center $\left(x_0,y_0,z_0\right)$ can be parameterized using trigonometric functions. :$\begin x &= x_0 + r \sin \theta \; \cos\varphi \\ y &= y_0 + r \sin \theta \; \sin\varphi \\ z &= z_0 + r \cos \theta \,\end$ The symbols used here are the same as those used in spherical coordinates. is constant, while varies from 0 to and $\varphi$ varies from 0 to 2.

# Properties

## Enclosed volume In three dimensions, the
volume Volume is a measure of occupied three-dimensional space. It is often quantified numerically using SI derived units (such as the cubic metre and litre) or by various imperial or US customary units (such as the gallon, quart, cubic inch). ...
inside a sphere (that is, the volume of a ball, but classically referred to as the volume of a sphere) is : $V = \frac\pi r^3 = \frac\ d^3 \approx 0.5236 \cdot d^3$ where is the radius and is the diameter of the sphere.
Archimedes Archimedes of Syracuse (;; ) was a Greek mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related stru ...
first derived this formula by showing that the volume inside a sphere is twice the volume between the sphere and the circumscribed cylinder of that sphere (having the height and diameter equal to the diameter of the sphere). This may be proved by inscribing a cone upside down into semi-sphere, noting that the area of a cross section of the cone plus the area of a cross section of the sphere is the same as the area of the cross section of the circumscribing cylinder, and applying
Cavalieri's principle In geometry Geometry (; ) is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they a ...
. This formula can also be derived using
integral calculus In mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented i ...
, i.e. disk integration to sum the volumes of an infinite number of circular disks of infinitesimally small thickness stacked side by side and centered along the -axis from to , assuming the sphere of radius is centered at the origin. At any given , the incremental volume () equals the product of the cross-sectional area of the disk at and its thickness (): : $\delta V \approx \pi y^2 \cdot \delta x.$ The total volume is the summation of all incremental volumes: : $V \approx \sum \pi y^2 \cdot \delta x.$ In the limit as approaches zero, this equation becomes: : $V = \int_^ \pi y^2 dx.$ At any given , a right-angled triangle connects , and to the origin; hence, applying the
Pythagorean theorem In mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented i ...
yields: : $y^2 = r^2 - x^2.$ Using this substitution gives : $V = \int_^ \pi \left\left(r^2 - x^2\right\right)dx,$ which can be evaluated to give the result : An alternative formula is found using spherical coordinates, with volume element : $dV=r^2\sin\theta\, dr\, d\theta\, d\varphi$ so : $V=\int_0^ \int_^ \int_0^r r\text{'}^2\sin\theta\, dr\text{'}\, d\theta\, d\varphi = 2\pi \int_^ \int_0^r r\text{'}^2\sin\theta\, dr\text{'}\, d\theta = 4\pi \int_0^r r\text{'}^2\, dr\text{'}\ =\frac43\pi r^3.$ For most practical purposes, the volume inside a sphere inscribed in a cube can be approximated as 52.4% of the volume of the cube, since , where is the diameter of the sphere and also the length of a side of the cube and  ≈ 0.5236. For example, a sphere with diameter 1m has 52.4% the volume of a cube with edge length 1m, or about 0.524 m3.

## Surface area

The surface area of a sphere of radius is: :$A = 4\pi r^2.$
Archimedes Archimedes of Syracuse (;; ) was a Greek mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related stru ...
first derived this formula from the fact that the projection to the lateral surface of a circumscribed cylinder is area-preserving. Another approach to obtaining the formula comes from the fact that it equals the derivative of the formula for the volume with respect to because the total volume inside a sphere of radius can be thought of as the summation of the surface area of an infinite number of spherical shells of infinitesimal thickness concentrically stacked inside one another from radius 0 to radius . At infinitesimal thickness the discrepancy between the inner and outer surface area of any given shell is infinitesimal, and the elemental volume at radius is simply the product of the surface area at radius and the infinitesimal thickness. At any given radius , the incremental volume () equals the product of the surface area at radius () and the thickness of a shell (): :$\delta V \approx A\left(r\right) \cdot \delta r.$ The total volume is the summation of all shell volumes: :$V \approx \sum A\left(r\right) \cdot \delta r.$ In the limit as approaches zero this equation becomes: :$V = \int_0^r A\left(r\right) \, dr.$ Substitute : :$\frac43\pi r^3 = \int_0^r A\left(r\right) \, dr.$ Differentiating both sides of this equation with respect to yields as a function of : :$4\pi r^2 = A\left(r\right).$ This is generally abbreviated as: :$A = 4\pi r^2,$ where is now considered to be the fixed radius of the sphere. Alternatively, the area element on the sphere is given in spherical coordinates by . In Cartesian coordinates, the area element is : $dS=\frac\prod_dx_,\;\forall k.$ The total area can thus be obtained by integration: :$A = \int_0^ \int_0^\pi r^2 \sin\theta \, d\theta \, d\varphi = 4\pi r^2.$ The sphere has the smallest surface area of all surfaces that enclose a given volume, and it encloses the largest volume among all closed surfaces with a given surface area. The sphere therefore appears in nature: for example, bubbles and small water drops are roughly spherical because the
surface tension Surface tension is the tendency of liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid that conforms to the shape of its container but retains a (nearly) constant volume independent of pressure. As such, it is one of the four fundament ...
locally minimizes surface area. The surface area relative to the mass of a ball is called the specific surface area and can be expressed from the above stated equations as :$\mathrm = \frac = \frac,$ where is the
density Density (volumetric mass density or specific mass) is the substance's mass per unit of volume. The symbol most often used for density is ''ρ'' (the lower case Greek letter rho), although the Latin letter ''D'' can also be used. Mathematic ...
(the ratio of mass to volume).

## Other geometric properties

A sphere can be constructed as the surface formed by rotating a
circle A circle is a shape consisting of all points in a plane that are at a given distance from a given point, the centre. Equivalently, it is the curve traced out by a point that moves in a plane so that its distance from a given point is co ...
about any of its diameters; this is essentially the traditional definition of a sphere as given in
Euclid's Elements The ''Elements'' ( grc, Στοιχεῖα ''Stoikheîa'') is a mathematical treatise A treatise is a formal and systematic written discourse on some subject, generally longer and treating it in greater depth than an essay, and more concer ...
. Since a circle is a special type of
ellipse In mathematics, an ellipse is a plane curve surrounding two focal points, such that for all points on the curve, the sum of the two distances to the focal points is a constant. It generalizes a circle, which is the special type of ellipse ...
, a sphere is a special type of ellipsoid of revolution. Replacing the circle with an ellipse rotated about its major axis, the shape becomes a prolate
spheroid A spheroid, also known as an ellipsoid of revolution or rotational ellipsoid, is a quadric surface obtained by rotating an ellipse In mathematics, an ellipse is a plane curve surrounding two focal points, such that for all points on ...
; rotated about the minor axis, an oblate spheroid. A sphere is uniquely determined by four points that are not coplanar. More generally, a sphere is uniquely determined by four conditions such as passing through a point, being tangent to a plane, etc. This property is analogous to the property that three non-collinear points determine a unique circle in a plane. Consequently, a sphere is uniquely determined by (that is, passes through) a circle and a point not in the plane of that circle. By examining the common solutions of the equations of two spheres, it can be seen that two spheres intersect in a circle and the plane containing that circle is called the radical plane of the intersecting spheres. Although the radical plane is a real plane, the circle may be imaginary (the spheres have no real point in common) or consist of a single point (the spheres are tangent at that point).. The angle between two spheres at a real point of intersection is the
dihedral angle A dihedral angle is the angle between two intersecting planes or half-planes. In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the elements that make up ma ...
determined by the tangent planes to the spheres at that point. Two spheres intersect at the same angle at all points of their circle of intersection. They intersect at right angles (are
orthogonal In mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in ...
) if and only if the square of the distance between their centers is equal to the sum of the squares of their radii.

### Pencil of spheres

If and are the equations of two distinct spheres then :$s f\left(x,y,z\right) + t g\left(x,y,z\right) = 0$ is also the equation of a sphere for arbitrary values of the parameters and . The set of all spheres satisfying this equation is called a pencil of spheres determined by the original two spheres. In this definition a sphere is allowed to be a plane (infinite radius, center at infinity) and if both the original spheres are planes then all the spheres of the pencil are planes, otherwise there is only one plane (the radical plane) in the pencil.

## ''Eleven properties of the sphere''

In their book ''Geometry and the Imagination'',
David Hilbert David Hilbert (; ; 23 January 1862 – 14 February 1943) was a German mathematician, one of the most influential mathematicians of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Hilbert discovered and developed a broad range of fundamental ideas in many ...
and Stephan Cohn-Vossen describe eleven properties of the sphere and discuss whether these properties uniquely determine the sphere. Several properties hold for the plane, which can be thought of as a sphere with infinite radius. These properties are: # ''The points on the sphere are all the same distance from a fixed point. Also, the ratio of the distance of its points from two fixed points is constant.'' #: The first part is the usual definition of the sphere and determines it uniquely. The second part can be easily deduced and follows a similar result of
Apollonius of Perga Apollonius of Perga ( grc-gre, Ἀπολλώνιος ὁ Περγαῖος, Apollṓnios ho Pergaîos; la, Apollonius Pergaeus; ) was an Ancient Greece, Ancient Greek geometer and astronomer known for his work on conic sections. Beginning from t ...
for the
circle A circle is a shape consisting of all points in a plane that are at a given distance from a given point, the centre. Equivalently, it is the curve traced out by a point that moves in a plane so that its distance from a given point is co ...
. This second part also holds for the plane. # ''The contours and plane sections of the sphere are circles.'' #: This property defines the sphere uniquely. # ''The sphere has constant width and constant girth.'' #: The width of a surface is the distance between pairs of parallel tangent planes. Numerous other closed convex surfaces have constant width, for example the Meissner body. The girth of a surface is the
circumference In geometry Geometry (; ) is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they ...
of the boundary of its orthogonal projection on to a plane. Each of these properties implies the other. # ''All points of a sphere are umbilics.'' #: At any point on a surface a normal direction is at right angles to the surface because on the sphere these are the lines radiating out from the center of the sphere. The intersection of a plane that contains the normal with the surface will form a curve that is called a ''normal section,'' and the curvature of this curve is the ''normal curvature''. For most points on most surfaces, different sections will have different curvatures; the maximum and minimum values of these are called the principal curvatures. Any closed surface will have at least four points called '' umbilical points''. At an umbilic all the sectional curvatures are equal; in particular the principal curvatures are equal. Umbilical points can be thought of as the points where the surface is closely approximated by a sphere. #: For the sphere the curvatures of all normal sections are equal, so every point is an umbilic. The sphere and plane are the only surfaces with this property. # ''The sphere does not have a surface of centers.'' #: For a given normal section exists a circle of curvature that equals the sectional curvature, is tangent to the surface, and the center lines of which lie along on the normal line. For example, the two centers corresponding to the maximum and minimum sectional curvatures are called the ''focal points'', and the set of all such centers forms the focal surface. #: For most surfaces the focal surface forms two sheets that are each a surface and meet at umbilical points. Several cases are special: #: * For channel surfaces one sheet forms a curve and the other sheet is a surface #: * For cones, cylinders, tori and cyclides both sheets form curves. #: * For the sphere the center of every osculating circle is at the center of the sphere and the focal surface forms a single point. This property is unique to the sphere. # ''All geodesics of the sphere are closed curves.'' #: Geodesics are curves on a surface that give the shortest distance between two points. They are a generalization of the concept of a straight line in the plane. For the sphere the geodesics are great circles. Many other surfaces share this property. # ''Of all the solids having a given volume, the sphere is the one with the smallest surface area; of all solids having a given surface area, the sphere is the one having the greatest volume.'' #: It follows from isoperimetric inequality. These properties define the sphere uniquely and can be seen in soap bubbles: a soap bubble will enclose a fixed volume, and
surface tension Surface tension is the tendency of liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid that conforms to the shape of its container but retains a (nearly) constant volume independent of pressure. As such, it is one of the four fundament ...
minimizes its surface area for that volume. A freely floating soap bubble therefore approximates a sphere (though such external forces as gravity will slightly distort the bubble's shape). It can also be seen in planets and stars where gravity minimizes surface area for large celestial bodies. # ''The sphere has the smallest total mean curvature among all convex solids with a given surface area.'' #: The mean curvature is the average of the two principal curvatures, which is constant because the two principal curvatures are constant at all points of the sphere. # ''The sphere has constant mean curvature.'' #: The sphere is the only imbedded surface that lacks boundary or singularities with constant positive mean curvature. Other such immersed surfaces as minimal surfaces have constant mean curvature. # ''The sphere has constant positive Gaussian curvature.'' #: Gaussian curvature is the product of the two principal curvatures. It is an intrinsic property that can be determined by measuring length and angles and is independent of how the surface is embedded in space. Hence, bending a surface will not alter the Gaussian curvature, and other surfaces with constant positive Gaussian curvature can be obtained by cutting a small slit in the sphere and bending it. All these other surfaces would have boundaries, and the sphere is the only surface that lacks a boundary with constant, positive Gaussian curvature. The pseudosphere is an example of a surface with constant negative Gaussian curvature. # ''The sphere is transformed into itself by a three-parameter family of rigid motions.'' #: Rotating around any axis a unit sphere at the origin will map the sphere onto itself. Any rotation about a line through the origin can be expressed as a combination of rotations around the three-coordinate axis (see Euler angles). Therefore, a three-parameter family of rotations exists such that each rotation transforms the sphere onto itself; this family is the rotation group SO(3). The plane is the only other surface with a three-parameter family of transformations (translations along the - and -axes and rotations around the origin). Circular cylinders are the only surfaces with two-parameter families of rigid motions and the surfaces of revolution and helicoids are the only surfaces with a one-parameter family.

# Treatment by area of mathematics

## Spherical geometry

The basic elements of Euclidean plane geometry are points and
lines Line most often refers to: * Line (geometry) In geometry Geometry (; ) is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related s ...
. On the sphere, points are defined in the usual sense. The analogue of the "line" is the
geodesic In geometry Geometry (; ) is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they a ...
, which is a great circle; the defining characteristic of a great circle is that the plane containing all its points also passes through the center of the sphere. Measuring by
arc length ARC may refer to: Business * Aircraft Radio Corporation, a major avionics manufacturer from the 1920s to the '50s * Airlines Reporting Corporation, an airline-owned company that provides ticket distribution, reporting, and settlement services ...
shows that the shortest path between two points lying on the sphere is the shorter segment of the great circle that includes the points. Many theorems from classical geometry hold true for spherical geometry as well, but not all do because the sphere fails to satisfy some of classical geometry's postulates, including the
parallel postulate In geometry Geometry (; ) is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are ...
. In spherical trigonometry,
angle In Euclidean geometry Euclidean geometry is a mathematical system attributed to ancient Greek mathematician Euclid, which he described in his textbook on geometry Geometry (; ) is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of m ...
s are defined between great circles. Spherical trigonometry differs from ordinary trigonometry in many respects. For example, the sum of the interior angles of a spherical triangle always exceeds 180 degrees. Also, any two similar spherical triangles are congruent. Any pair of points on a sphere that lie on a straight line through the sphere's center (i.e. the diameter) are called ''antipodal points''—on the sphere, the distance between them is exactly half the length of the circumference. Any other (i.e. not antipodal) pair of distinct points on a sphere * lie on a unique great circle, * segment it into one minor (i.e. shorter) and one major (i.e. longer) arc, and * have the minor arc's length be the ''shortest distance'' between them on the sphere. Spherical geometry is a form of elliptic geometry, which together with
hyperbolic geometry In mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in ...
makes up non-Euclidean geometry.

## Differential geometry

The sphere is a smooth surface with constant Gaussian curvature at each point equal to . As per Gauss's Theorema Egregium, this curvature is independent of the sphere's embedding in 3-dimensional space. Also following from Gauss, a sphere cannot be mapped to a plane while maintaining both areas and angles. Therefore, any map projection introduces some form of distortion. A sphere of radius has area element $dA = r^2 \sin \theta\, d\theta\, d\varphi$. This can be found from the volume element in spherical coordinates with held constant. A sphere of any radius centered at zero is an integral surface of the following
differential form In mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in mo ...
: :$x \, dx + y \, dy + z \, dz = 0.$ This equation reflects that the position vector and tangent plane at a point are always
orthogonal In mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in ...
to each other. Furthermore, the outward-facing normal vector is equal to the position vector scaled by . In
Riemannian geometry Riemannian geometry is the branch of differential geometry Differential geometry is a mathematical discipline that studies the geometry Geometry (; ) is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathematics Mathematics is ...
, the filling area conjecture states that the hemisphere is the optimal (least area) isometric filling of the Riemannian circle.

## Topology

In
topology In mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented i ...
, an -sphere is defined as a space homeomorphic to the boundary of an -ball; thus, it is homeomorphic to the Euclidean -sphere, but perhaps lacking its
metric Metric or metrical may refer to: * Metric system The metric system is a system of measurement that succeeded the decimalised system based on the metre that had been introduced in France in the 1790s. The historical development of these s ...
. * A 0-sphere is a pair of points with the discrete topology. * A 1-sphere is a circle (
up to Two mathematical objects ''a'' and ''b'' are called equal up to an equivalence relation ''R'' * if ''a'' and ''b'' are related by ''R'', that is, * if ''aRb'' holds, that is, * if the equivalence classes of ''a'' and ''b'' with respect to ''R' ...
homeomorphism); thus, for example, (the image of) any knot is a 1-sphere. * A 2-sphere is an ordinary sphere (up to homeomorphism); thus, for example, any
spheroid A spheroid, also known as an ellipsoid of revolution or rotational ellipsoid, is a quadric surface obtained by rotating an ellipse In mathematics, an ellipse is a plane curve surrounding two focal points, such that for all points on ...
is a 2-sphere. The -sphere is denoted . It is an example of a compact topological manifold without boundary. A sphere need not be smooth; if it is smooth, it need not be diffeomorphic to the Euclidean sphere (an exotic sphere). The sphere is the inverse image of a one-point set under the continuous function , so it is closed; is also bounded, so it is compact by the Heine–Borel theorem. Remarkably, it is possible to turn an ordinary sphere inside out in a three-dimensional space with possible self-intersections but without creating any creases, in a process called sphere eversion. The antipodal quotient of the sphere is the surface called the
real projective plane In mathematics, the real projective plane is an example of a compact non-Orientability, orientable two-dimensional manifold; in other words, a one-sided Surface (topology), surface. It cannot be embedding, embedded in standard three-dimensional ...
, which can also be thought of as the
Northern Hemisphere The Northern Hemisphere is the half of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. While large volumes of water can be found throughout the Solar System, only Earth sus ...
with antipodal points of the equator identified.

# Curves on a sphere  ## Circles

Circles on the sphere are, like circles in the plane, made up of all points a certain distance from a fixed point on the sphere. The intersection of a sphere and a plane is a circle, a point, or empty. Great circles are the intersection of the sphere with a plane passing through the center of a sphere: others are called small circles. More complicated surfaces may intersect a sphere in circles, too: the intersection of a sphere with a surface of revolution whose axis contains the center of the sphere (are ''coaxial'') consists of circles and/or points if not empty. For example, the diagram to the right shows the intersection of a sphere and a cylinder, which consists of two circles. If the cylinder radius were that of the sphere, the intersection would be a single circle. If the cylinder radius were larger than that of the sphere, the intersection would be empty.

## Loxodrome In
navigation Navigation is a field of study that focuses on the process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a craft or vehicle A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) is a machine that transports people or cargo. Vehicles include wagons, bicycles, m ...
, a rhumb line or loxodrome is an arc crossing all meridians of
longitude Longitude (, ) is a geographic coordinate that specifies the east– west position of a point on the surface of the Earth, or another celestial body. It is an angular measurement, usually expressed in degrees and denoted by the Greek l ...
at the same angle. Loxodromes are the same as straight lines in the
Mercator projection The Mercator projection () is a cylindrical map projection presented by Flemish geographer and cartographer Gerardus Mercator in 1569. It became the standard map projection for navigation Navigation is a field of study that focuses on th ...
. A rhumb line is not a spherical spiral. Except for some simple cases, the formula of a rhumb line is complicated.

## Clelia curves A Clelia curve is a curve on a sphere for which the
longitude Longitude (, ) is a geographic coordinate that specifies the east– west position of a point on the surface of the Earth, or another celestial body. It is an angular measurement, usually expressed in degrees and denoted by the Greek l ...
$\varphi$ and the colatitude $\theta$ satisfy the equation :$\varphi=c\;\theta, \quad c>0$. Special cases are: Viviani's curve ($c=1$) and spherical spirals ($c>2$) such as Seiffert's spiral. Clelia curves approximate the path of satellites in
polar orbit A polar orbit is one in which a satellite A satellite or artificial satellite is an object intentionally placed into orbit in outer space Outer space, commonly shortened to space, is the expanse that exists beyond Earth and its atm ...
.

## Spherical conics

The analog of a
conic section In mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented i ...
on the sphere is a spherical conic, a quartic curve which can be defined in several equivalent ways, including: * as the intersection of a sphere with a quadratic cone whose vertex is the sphere center; * as the intersection of a sphere with an elliptic or hyperbolic cylinder whose axis passes through the sphere center; * as the locus of points whose sum or difference of great-circle distances from a pair of foci is a constant. Many theorems relating to planar conic sections also extend to spherical conics.

## Intersection of a sphere with a more general surface If a sphere is intersected by another surface, there may be more complicated spherical curves. ; Example: sphere – cylinder The intersection of the sphere with equation $\; x^2+y^2+z^2=r^2\;$ and the cylinder with equation $\;\left(y-y_0\right)^2+z^2=a^2, \; y_0\ne 0\;$ is not just one or two circles. It is the solution of the non-linear system of equations :$x^2+y^2+z^2-r^2=0$ :$\left(y-y_0\right)^2+z^2-a^2=0\ .$ (see implicit curve and the diagram)

# Generalizations

## Ellipsoids

An
ellipsoid An ellipsoid is a surface that may be obtained from a sphere by deforming it by means of directional Scaling (geometry), scalings, or more generally, of an affine transformation. An ellipsoid is a quadric surface;  that is, a Surface (mathemat ...
is a sphere that has been stretched or compressed in one or more directions. More exactly, it is the image of a sphere under an affine transformation. An ellipsoid bears the same relationship to the sphere that an
ellipse In mathematics, an ellipse is a plane curve surrounding two focal points, such that for all points on the curve, the sum of the two distances to the focal points is a constant. It generalizes a circle, which is the special type of ellipse ...
does to a circle.

## Dimensionality

Spheres can be generalized to spaces of any number of dimensions. For any
natural number In mathematics, the natural numbers are those number A number is a mathematical object used to count, measure, and label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can be represented in lang ...
, an ''-sphere,'' often denoted , is the set of points in ()-dimensional Euclidean space that are at a fixed distance from a central point of that space, where is, as before, a positive real number. In particular: * : a 0-sphere consists of two discrete points, and * : a 1-sphere is a
circle A circle is a shape consisting of all points in a plane that are at a given distance from a given point, the centre. Equivalently, it is the curve traced out by a point that moves in a plane so that its distance from a given point is co ...
of radius ''r'' * : a 2-sphere is an ordinary sphere * : a 3-sphere is a sphere in 4-dimensional Euclidean space. Spheres for are sometimes called
hypersphere In mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in ...
s. The -sphere of unit radius centered at the origin is denoted and is often referred to as "the" -sphere. The ordinary sphere is a 2-sphere, because it is a 2-dimensional surface which is embedded in 3-dimensional space.

## Metric spaces

More generally, in a
metric space In mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in m ...
, the sphere of center and radius is the set of points such that . If the center is a distinguished point that is considered to be the origin of , as in a normed space, it is not mentioned in the definition and notation. The same applies for the radius if it is taken to equal one, as in the case of a unit sphere. Unlike a ball, even a large sphere may be an empty set. For example, in with Euclidean metric, a sphere of radius is nonempty only if can be written as sum of squares of
integer An integer is the number zero (), a positive natural number In mathematics, the natural numbers are those number A number is a mathematical object used to count, measure, and label. The original examples are the natural number ...
s. An octahedron is a sphere in taxicab geometry, and a
cube In geometry Geometry (; ) is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they ...
is a sphere in geometry using the
Chebyshev distance In mathematics, Chebyshev distance (or Tchebychev distance), maximum metric, or L∞ metric is a Metric (mathematics), metric defined on a vector space where the distance between two coordinate vector, vectors is the greatest of their differences ...
.

# History

The geometry of the sphere was studied by the Greeks. ''
Euclid's Elements The ''Elements'' ( grc, Στοιχεῖα ''Stoikheîa'') is a mathematical treatise A treatise is a formal and systematic written discourse on some subject, generally longer and treating it in greater depth than an essay, and more concer ...
'' defines the sphere in book XI, discusses various properties of the sphere in book XII, and shows how to inscribe the five regular polyhedra within a sphere in book XIII. Euclid does not include the area and volume of a sphere, only a theorem that the volume of a sphere varies as the third power of its diameter, probably due to
Eudoxus of Cnidus Eudoxus of Cnidus (; grc, Εὔδοξος ὁ Κνίδιος, ''Eúdoxos ho Knídios''; ) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the ancient world Ancient hist ...
. The volume and area formulas were first determined in
Archimedes Archimedes of Syracuse (;; ) was a Greek mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related stru ...
's '' On the Sphere and Cylinder'' by the
method of exhaustion The method of exhaustion (; ) is a method of finding the area Area is the quantity that expresses the extent of a region on the plane or on a curved surface. The area of a plane region or ''plane area'' refers to the area of a shape or ...
. Zenodorus was the first to state that, for a given surface area, the sphere is the solid of maximum volume. Archimedes wrote about the problem of dividing a sphere into segments whose volumes are in a given ratio, but did not solve it. A solution by means of the parabola and hyperbola was given by Dionysodorus. A similar problem — to construct a segment equal in volume to a given segment, and in surface to another segment — was solved later by al-Quhi.

# Gallery

File:Einstein gyro gravity probe b.jpg, An image of one of the most accurate human-made spheres, as it refracts the image of Einstein in the background. This sphere was a
fused quartz Fused quartz, fused silica or quartz glass is a glass consisting of almost pure silica (silicon dioxide, SiO2) in amorphous (non-crystal A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid material whose constituents (such as atoms, molecul ...
gyroscope A gyroscope (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the ancient world Ancient history is a time period from the beginning of writing and recorded human histo ...
for the Gravity Probe B experiment, and differs in shape from a perfect sphere by no more than 40 atoms (less than 10nm) of thickness. It was announced on 1 July 2008 that
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of , Australia is the largest country b ...
n scientists had created even more nearly perfect spheres, accurate to 0.3nm, as part of an international hunt to find a new global standard kilogram.New Scientist , Technology , Roundest objects in the world created
File:King of spades- spheres.jpg, Deck of playing cards illustrating engineering instruments, England, 1702. King of spades: Spheres

# Regions

* Hemisphere *
Spherical cap In geometry Geometry (; ) is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they a ...
*
Spherical lune In spherical geometry, a spherical lune (or biangle) is an area on a sphere bounded by two half great circles which meet at antipodal points. It is an example of a digon In geometry Geometry (; ) is, with arithmetic, one of the o ...
* Spherical polygon * Spherical sector * Spherical segment * Spherical wedge * Spherical zone

* 3-sphere * Affine sphere * Alexander horned sphere * Celestial spheres * Curvature * Directional statistics * Dyson sphere * Gauss map * Hand with Reflecting Sphere, M.C. Escher self-portrait drawing illustrating reflection and the optical properties of a mirror sphere * Hoberman sphere * Homology sphere * Homotopy groups of spheres * Homotopy sphere * Lenart Sphere * Napkin ring problem * Orb (optics) * Pseudosphere * Riemann sphere * Solid angle * Sphere packing * Spherical coordinates * Spherical cow * Spherical helix, tangent indicatrix of a curve of constant precession *
Spherical polyhedron In geometry Geometry (; ) is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they a ...
* Sphericity * Tennis ball theorem * Zoll sphere