A right triangle is a polygon with three sides that has one angle (α) that measures 90° which is the largest angle of the right triangle.
If we add all three angles in any triangle we get 180 degrees. Thus, the sum of the other two smaller angles is 90°.
The relation between the sides lengths and angles of a right triangle is the basis for trigonometry.
The elements of a right triangle are:
- Legs: the two sides contiguous to the right angle, a and b (each of them is a leg), and the
- Hypotenuse: the long side c, opposite the right angle (the largest angle).
Types of Right Triangles
There are two types of right triangles depending on their two acute angles:
- Isosceles Right Triangle: triangle with one right angle (90°) and two other equal angles (45°). The two legs are equal in length.
- Scalene Right Triangle: all three angles have different measures (one of them measures 90°). Also its sides have different lengths.
Special Right Triangle
A special right triangle is a right triangle whose sides or angles are in a particular ratio. There are some special right triangles so common that it’s useful to know its sides ratios. This allows you to find the missing sides when you only know one side without resorting to more advanced methods like the Pythagorean Theorem.
Special right triangles fall into two categories:
- Angle-Based Special Right Triangle.There are two angle-based special right triangle:
45-45-90 Right Triangle: as we saw above this is the isosceles right triangle whose sides ratios are x, x, x√2. In other words, the sides are in the ratio 1:1:√2 and angles are in the ratio 1:1:2.
30-60-90 Right Triangle: is a special scalene right triangle whose angles measure 30-60-90. They are in a ratio 1:2:3. A 30-60-90 right triangle has side ratios x, 2x and x√3 (or ratio 1:2:√3)
- Side-Based Special Right Triangle. There are special right triangles whose sides are of integer lengths. This type of right triangle is called Pythagorean Triple Triangle.
The most common Pythagorean Triple Triangles are whose sides are in the ratios:
- 3: 4 :5
- 5: 12 :13
- 8: 15 :17
- 7: 24 :25
- 9: 40 :41
We can find more Pythagorean Triples Triangles by scaling any other Pythagorean number Triple. For example multiplying with 3 the Pythagorean triple 3:4:5 we obtain 9:12:15.
Altitude of a Right Triangle
We can calculate the altitude h (or hc) if we know the three sides of the right triangle.
To find the perimeter of a right triangle we add the lengths of its three sides.
Another way to calculate the perimeter of a right triangle is applying the Pythagoras’ theorem. This theorem states that the square of the two legs on a right triangle is equal to the square of the hypotenuse. So, we can find the perimeter of a right triangle if we have the length of the two legs (a and b) cause hypotenuse is equal to √(a2+b2).
Remember that Pythagorean Theorem states:
Then the perimeter is:
Download this calculator to get the results of the formulas on this page. Choose the initial data and enter it in the upper left box. For results, press ENTER.
Note. Courtesy of the author: José María Pareja Marcano. Chemist. Seville, Spain.
Thales’ theorem states that if A, B, and C are distinct points on a circle with a center O where the line AC is a diameter, the triangle Δ ABC has a right angle (90°) in point B. Thus, Δ ABC is a right triangle.
Proof of Thales’ Theorem
If we connect the center O to point B we create two triangles Δ ABO and Δ OBC that are both isosceles triangles because all radii r are equal (OA, OB and OC are equal). And, by the base angle theorem, their base angles are equal. Let’s label the base angles of Δ ABO ‘α’, and those of Δ OBC ‘β’.
Dividing the equality by 2:
Since α + β is the angle of Δ ABC at point B, Thales’ theorem is proved.
Apply the above formula:
And we have that the area is 6 cm2.
We can find the perimeter of a right triangle whose sides are a=3 cm, b=4 cm and c=5 cm by adding all the three sides:
The perimeter of the triangle is 12 cm.
AUTHOR: Bernat Requena Serra