In astronomy, luminosity is the amount of electromagnetic energy a body radiates per unit of time. When not qualified, the term "luminosity" means bolometric luminosity, which is measured either in the SI units, watts, or in terms of solar luminosities (L☉). A bolometer is the instrument used to measure radiant energy over a wide band by absorption and measurement of heating. A star also radiates neutrinos, which carry off some energy (about 2% in the case of our Sun), contributing to the star's total luminosity. The IAU has defined a nominal solar luminosity of ×1026 W to promote publication of consistent and comparable values in units of the solar luminosity. 3.828
While bolometers do exist, they cannot be used to measure even the apparent brightness of a star because they are insufficiently sensitive across the electromagnetic spectrum and because most wavelengths do not reach the surface of the Earth. In practice bolometric magnitudes are measured by taking measurements at certain wavelengths and constructing a model of the total spectrum that is most likely to match those measurements. In some cases, the process of estimation is extreme, with luminosities being calculated when less than 1% of the energy output is observed, for example with a hot Wolf-Rayet star observed only in the infra-red. Bolometric luminosities can also be calculated using a bolometric correction to a luminosity in a particular passband.
The term luminosity is also used in relation to particular passbands such as a visual luminosity of K-band luminosity. These are not generally luminosities in the strict sense of an absolute measure of radiated power, but absolute magnitudes defined for a given filter in a photometric system. Several different photometric systems exist. Some such as the UBV or Johnson system are defined against photometric standard stars, while others such as the AB system are defined in terms of a spectral flux density.