In astronomy, luminosity is the total amount of energy emitted per unit of time by a star, galaxy, or other astronomical object.[1] As a term for energy emitted per unit time, luminosity is synonymous with power.[2][3][4][5]

In SI units luminosity is measured in joules per second or watts. Values for luminosity are often given in the terms of the luminosity of the Sun, L. Luminosity can also be given in terms of the astronomical magnitude system: the absolute bolometric magnitude (Mbol) of an object is a logarithmic measure of its total energy emission rate, while absolute magnitude is a logarithmic measure of the luminosity within some specific wavelength range or filter band.

In contrast, the term brightness in astronomy is generally used to refer to an object's apparent brightness: that is, how bright an object appears to an observer. Apparent brightness depends on both the luminosity of the object and the distance between the object and observer, and also on any absorption of light along the path from object to observer. Apparent magnitude is a logarithmic measure of apparent brightness.

Measuring luminosity

Hertzsprung–Russell diagram identifying stellar luminosity as a function of temperature for many stars in our solar neighborhood.

In astronomy, luminosity is the amount of electromagnetic energy a body radiates per unit of time.[6] 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.[7] The IAU has defined a nominal solar luminosity of 3.828×1026 W to promote publication of consistent and comparable values in units of the solar luminosity.[8]

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.[9][10]

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.[11]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Liggewendheid
asturianu: Lluminosidá
беларуская: Свяцільнасць
български: Светимост
bosanski: Luminozitet
català: Lluminositat
čeština: Zářivý výkon
Deutsch: Leuchtkraft
español: Luminosidad
Esperanto: Lumeco
فارسی: تابندگی
français: Luminosité
Gaeilge: Lonrachas
galego: Luminosidade
हिन्दी: तेजस्विता
hrvatski: Luminoznost
Bahasa Indonesia: Luminositas
íslenska: Ljósafl
Kiswahili: Mng'aro wa Jua
Kreyòl ayisyen: Liminozite
latviešu: Starjauda
Lëtzebuergesch: Liichtkraaft
lietuvių: Šviesis
magyar: Luminozitás
македонски: Сјајност
Bahasa Melayu: Kekilauan
Nederlands: Lichtkracht
norsk nynorsk: Luminositet
Plattdüütsch: Lüüchtkraft
português: Luminosidade
română: Luminozitate
русский: Светимость
Scots: Luminosity
Simple English: Luminosity
slovenščina: Izsev
српски / srpski: Луминозност
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Luminozitet
svenska: Luminositet
Tagalog: Kaliwanagan
татарча/tatarça: Яктыртучанлык
українська: Світність
Tiếng Việt: Độ sáng
中文: 光度