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Luminosity is a measurement of brightness.


In photometry and color imaging

In photometry, luminosity is sometimes incorrectly used to refer to luminance, which is the density of luminous intensity in a given direction. The SI unit for luminance is candela per square metre.

In Adobe Photoshop's imaging operations, luminosity is the term used incorrectly to refer to the luma component of a color image signal; that is, a weighted sum of the nonlinear red, green, and blue signals. It seems to be calculated with the Rec. 601 luma co-efficients (Rec. 601: Luma (Y’) = 0.299 R’ + 0.587 G’ + 0.114 B’).

The "L" in HSL color space is sometimes said incorrectly to stand for luminosity. "L" in this case is calculated as 1/2 (MAX + MIN), where MAX and MIN refer to the highest and lowest of the R'G'B' components to be converted into HSL color space.

The luminosity function a.k.a. luminous efficiency function describes the average visual sensitivity of the human eye to light of different wavelengths. There are two luminosity functions in common use. For everyday light levels, the photopic luminosity function best approximates the response of the human eye. For low light levels, the response of the human eye changes, and the scotopic curve applies.

In astronomy

In astronomy, luminosity is the amount of electromagnetic energy a body radiates per unit of time.

The luminosity of stars is measured in two forms: apparent (counting visible light only) and bolometric (total radiant energy); a bolometer is an instrument that measures radiant energy over a wide band by absorption and measurement of heating. When not qualified, luminosity means bolometric luminosity, which is measured in the SI units watts, or in terms of solar luminosities,  L_{\odot} ; that is, how many times as much energy the object radiates than the Sun, whose luminosity is 3.846×1026 W.

Luminosity is an intrinsic measurable property independent of distance, and is appraised as absolute magnitude, corresponding to the apparent luminosity in visible light of a star as seen at the interstellar distance of 10 parsecs, or bolometric magnitude corresponding to bolometric luminosity. In contrast, apparent brightness is related to the distance by an inverse square law. In addition to this brightness decrease from increased distance there is an extra linear decrease of brightness for interstellar "extinction" from intervening interstellar dust. Visible brightness is usually measured by apparent magnitude. Both absolute and apparent magnitudes are on an inverse logarithmic scale, where 5 magnitudes increase counterparts a 100:th part decrease in nonlogarithmic luminosity.

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