Problem #942


Let $C_1$ and $C_2$ be circles defined by $(x-10)^2 + y^2 = 36$ and $(x+15)^2 + y^2 = 81$ respectively. What is the length of the shortest line segment $PQ$ that is tangent to $C_1$ at $P$ and to $C_2$ at $Q$?

$\text{(A) }15 \qquad \text{(B) }18 \qquad \text{(C) }20 \qquad \text{(D) }21 \qquad \text{(E) }24$

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Instructions for entering answers:

  • Reduce fractions to lowest terms and enter in the form 7/9.
  • Numbers involving pi should be written as 7pi or 7pi/3 as appropriate.
  • Square roots should be written as sqrt(3), 5sqrt(5), sqrt(3)/2, or 7sqrt(2)/3 as appropriate.
  • Exponents should be entered in the form 10^10.
  • If the problem is multiple choice, enter the appropriate (capital) letter.
  • Enter points with parentheses, like so: (4,5)
  • Complex numbers should be entered in rectangular form unless otherwise specified, like so: 3+4i. If there is no real component, enter only the imaginary component (i.e. 2i, NOT 0+2i).

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