Trigonometry/Circles and Triangles/The Excircles

An excircle of a triangle is a circle that has as tangents one side of the triangle and the other two sides extended. There are three such circles, one corresponding to each side of the triangle.

The centre of each such circle, an excentre of the triangle, is at the intersection of the bisector of the angle opposite the side tangent to the circle and the external bisectors of the other two angles of the triangle. The proof is similar to that for the location of the incentre.

Let the sides of a triangle be a, b and c and the angles opposite be A, B and C respectively. Denote the area of the triangle by Δ. Write s = 12(a+b+c).

If the radius of the excircle touching side a is ra, then r_a = \frac{\Delta}{s-a}, with similar expressions for the other two excircles. If r is the inradius, we have

\frac{1}{r_a} + \frac{1}{r_b} + \frac{1}{r_c} = \frac{s-a}{\Delta} + \frac{s-b}{\Delta} + \frac{s-c}{\Delta} = \frac{s}{\Delta} = \frac{1}{r}

If the vertices of a triangle are ABC and the excircle touching side BC does so at point D, then AB+BD = AC+CD. (This is easily proved using the theorem that the two tangents from a point to a circle are equal in length.) Both these expressions are s, the semiperimeter.

The square of the distance of the excentre corresponding to side a from the circumcentre is R(R+2ra), with similar expressions for the other two excentres. Also,

\displaystyle r_a + r_b + r_c = r + 4R.

The area of the triangle is

\displaystyle \sqrt {r_a r_b r_c r}.

Three other expressions for ra are

r_a = a {{\cos(\frac{B}{2}) \cos(\frac{C}{2})} \over {\cos(\frac{A}{2})}}
r_a = 4R\sin(\frac{A}{2})\cos(\frac{B}{2})\cos(\frac{C}{2})
r_a = s \tan(\frac{A}{2})

with similar expressions for rb and rc.

It can readily be proved from the second of these expressions that if ra = r + rb + rc then A is a right angle.

The distance of Ia from the three vertices A, B, C are

4R\cos\left(\frac{B}{2}\right)\cos\left(\frac{C}{2}\right) \text{, } 4R\sin\left(\frac{A}{2}\right)\cos\left(\frac{C}{2}\right) \text{, } 4R\sin\left(\frac{A}{2}\right)\cos\left(\frac{B}{2}\right)

respectively, with similar expressions for the other excentres.

\displaystyle r.II_a.II_b.II_c = 4R.IA.IB.IC
Last modified on 24 February 2011, at 16:58