SIMBAD is an astronomical database of objects beyond the Solar System. It is maintained by the Centre de données astronomiques de France. SIMBAD was created by merging the Catalog of Stellar Identifications and the Bibliographic Star Index as they existed at the Meudon Computer Centre until 1979, expanded by additional source data from other catalogues and the academic literature; the first on-line interactive version, known as Version 2, was made available in 1981. Version 3, developed in the C language and running on UNIX stations at the Strasbourg Observatory, was released in 1990. Fall of 2006 saw the release of Version 4 of the database, now stored in PostgreSQL, the supporting software, now written in Java; as of 10 February 2017, SIMBAD contains information for 9,099,070 objects under 24,529,080 different names, with 327,634 bibliographical references and 15,511,733 bibliographic citations. The minor planet 4692 SIMBAD was named in its honour. Planetary Data System – NASA's database of information on SSSB, maintained by JPL and Caltech.
NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database – a database of information on objects outside the Milky Way maintained by JPL. NASA Exoplanet Archive – an online astronomical exoplanet catalog and data service Bibcode SIMBAD, Strasbourg SIMBAD, Harvard
A star is type of astronomical object consisting of a luminous spheroid of plasma held together by its own gravity. The nearest star to Earth is the Sun. Many other stars are visible to the naked eye from Earth during the night, appearing as a multitude of fixed luminous points in the sky due to their immense distance from Earth; the most prominent stars were grouped into constellations and asterisms, the brightest of which gained proper names. Astronomers have assembled star catalogues that identify the known stars and provide standardized stellar designations. However, most of the estimated 300 sextillion stars in the Universe are invisible to the naked eye from Earth, including all stars outside our galaxy, the Milky Way. For at least a portion of its life, a star shines due to thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium in its core, releasing energy that traverses the star's interior and radiates into outer space. All occurring elements heavier than helium are created by stellar nucleosynthesis during the star's lifetime, for some stars by supernova nucleosynthesis when it explodes.
Near the end of its life, a star can contain degenerate matter. Astronomers can determine the mass, age and many other properties of a star by observing its motion through space, its luminosity, spectrum respectively; the total mass of a star is the main factor. Other characteristics of a star, including diameter and temperature, change over its life, while the star's environment affects its rotation and movement. A plot of the temperature of many stars against their luminosities produces a plot known as a Hertzsprung–Russell diagram. Plotting a particular star on that diagram allows the age and evolutionary state of that star to be determined. A star's life begins with the gravitational collapse of a gaseous nebula of material composed of hydrogen, along with helium and trace amounts of heavier elements; when the stellar core is sufficiently dense, hydrogen becomes converted into helium through nuclear fusion, releasing energy in the process. The remainder of the star's interior carries energy away from the core through a combination of radiative and convective heat transfer processes.
The star's internal pressure prevents it from collapsing further under its own gravity. A star with mass greater than 0.4 times the Sun's will expand to become a red giant when the hydrogen fuel in its core is exhausted. In some cases, it will fuse heavier elements in shells around the core; as the star expands it throws a part of its mass, enriched with those heavier elements, into the interstellar environment, to be recycled as new stars. Meanwhile, the core becomes a stellar remnant: a white dwarf, a neutron star, or if it is sufficiently massive a black hole. Binary and multi-star systems consist of two or more stars that are gravitationally bound and move around each other in stable orbits; when two such stars have a close orbit, their gravitational interaction can have a significant impact on their evolution. Stars can form part of a much larger gravitationally bound structure, such as a star cluster or a galaxy. Stars have been important to civilizations throughout the world, they have used for celestial navigation and orientation.
Many ancient astronomers believed that stars were permanently affixed to a heavenly sphere and that they were immutable. By convention, astronomers grouped stars into constellations and used them to track the motions of the planets and the inferred position of the Sun; the motion of the Sun against the background stars was used to create calendars, which could be used to regulate agricultural practices. The Gregorian calendar used nearly everywhere in the world, is a solar calendar based on the angle of the Earth's rotational axis relative to its local star, the Sun; the oldest dated star chart was the result of ancient Egyptian astronomy in 1534 BC. The earliest known star catalogues were compiled by the ancient Babylonian astronomers of Mesopotamia in the late 2nd millennium BC, during the Kassite Period; the first star catalogue in Greek astronomy was created by Aristillus in 300 BC, with the help of Timocharis. The star catalog of Hipparchus included 1020 stars, was used to assemble Ptolemy's star catalogue.
Hipparchus is known for the discovery of the first recorded nova. Many of the constellations and star names in use today derive from Greek astronomy. In spite of the apparent immutability of the heavens, Chinese astronomers were aware that new stars could appear. In 185 AD, they were the first to observe and write about a supernova, now known as the SN 185; the brightest stellar event in recorded history was the SN 1006 supernova, observed in 1006 and written about by the Egyptian astronomer Ali ibn Ridwan and several Chinese astronomers. The SN 1054 supernova, which gave birth to the Crab Nebula, was observed by Chinese and Islamic astronomers. Medieval Islamic astronomers gave Arabic names to many stars that are still used today and they invented numerous astronomical instruments that could compute the positions of the stars, they built the first large observatory research institutes for the purpose of producing Zij star catalogues. Among these, the Book of Fixed Stars was written by the Persian astronomer Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi, who observed a number of stars, star clusters and galaxies.
According to A. Zahoor, in the 11th century, the Persian polymath scholar Abu Rayhan Biruni described the Milky
Astrometry is the branch of astronomy that involves precise measurements of the positions and movements of stars and other celestial bodies. The information obtained by astrometric measurements provides information on the kinematics and physical origin of the Solar System and our galaxy, the Milky Way; the history of astrometry is linked to the history of star catalogues, which gave astronomers reference points for objects in the sky so they could track their movements. This can be dated back to Hipparchus, who around 190 BC used the catalogue of his predecessors Timocharis and Aristillus to discover Earth's precession. In doing so, he developed the brightness scale still in use today. Hipparchus compiled a catalogue with their positions. Hipparchus's successor, included a catalogue of 1,022 stars in his work the Almagest, giving their location and brightness. In the 10th century, Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi carried out observations on the stars and described their positions and star color. Ibn Yunus observed more than 10,000 entries for the Sun's position for many years using a large astrolabe with a diameter of nearly 1.4 metres.
His observations on eclipses were still used centuries in Simon Newcomb's investigations on the motion of the Moon, while his other observations of the motions of the planets Jupiter and Saturn inspired Laplace's Obliquity of the Ecliptic and Inequalities of Jupiter and Saturn. In the 15th century, the Timurid astronomer Ulugh Beg compiled the Zij-i-Sultani, in which he catalogued 1,019 stars. Like the earlier catalogs of Hipparchus and Ptolemy, Ulugh Beg's catalogue is estimated to have been precise to within 20 minutes of arc. In the 16th century, Tycho Brahe used improved instruments, including large mural instruments, to measure star positions more than with a precision of 15–35 arcsec. Taqi al-Din measured the right ascension of the stars at the Constantinople Observatory of Taqi ad-Din using the "observational clock" he invented; when telescopes became commonplace, setting circles sped measurements James Bradley first tried to measure stellar parallaxes in 1729. The stellar movement proved too insignificant for his telescope, but he instead discovered the aberration of light and the nutation of the Earth's axis.
His cataloguing of 3222 stars was refined in 1807 by Friedrich Bessel, the father of modern astrometry. He made the first measurement of stellar parallax: 0.3 arcsec for the binary star 61 Cygni. Being difficult to measure, only about 60 stellar parallaxes had been obtained by the end of the 19th century by use of the filar micrometer. Astrographs using astronomical photographic plates sped the process in the early 20th century. Automated plate-measuring machines and more sophisticated computer technology of the 1960s allowed more efficient compilation of star catalogues. In the 1980s, charge-coupled devices replaced photographic plates and reduced optical uncertainties to one milliarcsecond; this technology made astrometry less expensive. In 1989, the European Space Agency's Hipparcos satellite took astrometry into orbit, where it could be less affected by mechanical forces of the Earth and optical distortions from its atmosphere. Operated from 1989 to 1993, Hipparcos measured large and small angles on the sky with much greater precision than any previous optical telescopes.
During its 4-year run, the positions and proper motions of 118,218 stars were determined with an unprecedented degree of accuracy. A new "Tycho catalog" drew together a database of 1,058,332 to within 20-30 mas. Additional catalogues were compiled for the 23,882 double/multiple stars and 11,597 variable stars analyzed during the Hipparcos mission. Today, the catalogue most used is USNO-B1.0, an all-sky catalogue that tracks proper motions, positions and other characteristics for over one billion stellar objects. During the past 50 years, 7,435 Schmidt camera plates were used to complete several sky surveys that make the data in USNO-B1.0 accurate to within 0.2 arcsec. Apart from the fundamental function of providing astronomers with a reference frame to report their observations in, astrometry is fundamental for fields like celestial mechanics, stellar dynamics and galactic astronomy. In observational astronomy, astrometric techniques help identify stellar objects by their unique motions, it is instrumental for keeping time, in that UTC is the atomic time synchronized to Earth's rotation by means of exact astronomical observations.
Astrometry is an important step in the cosmic distance ladder because it establishes parallax distance estimates for stars in the Milky Way. Astrometry has been used to support claims of extrasolar planet detection by measuring the displacement the proposed planets cause in their parent star's apparent position on the sky, due to their mutual orbit around the center of mass of the system. Astrometry is more accurate in space missions that are not affected by the distorting effects of the Earth's atmosphere. NASA's planned Space Interferometry Mission was to utilize astrometric techniques to detect terrestrial planets orbiting 200 or so of the nearest solar-type stars; the European Space Agency's Gaia Mission, launched in 2013, applies astrometric techniques in its stellar census. In addition to the detection of exoplanets, it can be used to determine their mass. Astrometric measurements are used by astrophysicists to constrain certain models in celestial mechanics. By measuring the velocities of pulsars, it is possible to put a limit on the asymmetry of supernova explosions.
Stellar parallax is the apparent shift of position of any nearby star against the background of distant objects. Created by the different orbital positions of Earth, the small observed shift is largest at time intervals of about six months, when Earth arrives at opposite sides of the Sun in its orbit, giving a baseline distance of about two astronomical units between observations; the parallax itself is considered to be half of this maximum, about equivalent to the observational shift that would occur due to the different positions of Earth and the Sun, a baseline of one astronomical unit. Stellar parallax is so difficult to detect that its existence was the subject of much debate in astronomy for hundreds of years, it was first observed in 1806 by Giuseppe Calandrelli who reported parallax in α-Lyrae in his work "Osservazione e riflessione sulla parallasse annua dall’alfa della Lira". In 1838 Friedrich Bessel made the first successful parallax measurement, for the star 61 Cygni, using a Fraunhofer heliometer at Königsberg Observatory.
Once a star's parallax is known, its distance from Earth can be computed trigonometrically. But the more distant an object is, the smaller its parallax. With 21st-century techniques in astrometry, the limits of accurate measurement make distances farther away than about 100 parsecs too approximate to be useful when obtained by this technique; this limits the applicability of parallax as a measurement of distance to objects that are close on a galactic scale. Other techniques, such as spectral red-shift, are required to measure the distance of more remote objects. Stellar parallax measures are given in the tiny units of arcseconds, or in thousandths of arcseconds; the distance unit parsec is defined as the length of the leg of a right triangle adjacent to the angle of one arcsecond at one vertex, where the other leg is 1 AU long. Because stellar parallaxes and distances all involve such skinny right triangles, a convenient trigonometric approximation can be used to convert parallaxes to distance.
The approximate distance is the reciprocal of the parallax: d ≃ 1 / p. For example, Proxima Centauri, whose parallax is 0.7687, is 1 / 0.7687 parsecs = 1.3009 parsecs distant. Stellar parallax is so small that its apparent absence was used as a scientific argument against heliocentrism during the early modern age, it is clear from Euclid's geometry that the effect would be undetectable if the stars were far enough away, but for various reasons such gigantic distances involved seemed implausible: it was one of Tycho Brahe's principal objections to Copernican heliocentrism that in order for it to be compatible with the lack of observable stellar parallax, there would have to be an enormous and unlikely void between the orbit of Saturn and the eighth sphere. James Bradley first tried to measure stellar parallaxes in 1729; the stellar movement proved too insignificant for his telescope, but he instead discovered the aberration of light and the nutation of Earth's axis, catalogued 3222 stars. Stellar parallax is most measured using annual parallax, defined as the difference in position of a star as seen from Earth and Sun, i.e. the angle subtended at a star by the mean radius of Earth's orbit around the Sun.
The parsec is defined as the distance. Annual parallax is measured by observing the position of a star at different times of the year as Earth moves through its orbit. Measurement of annual parallax was the first reliable way to determine the distances to the closest stars; the first successful measurements of stellar parallax were made by Friedrich Bessel in 1838 for the star 61 Cygni using a heliometer. Being difficult to measure, only about 60 stellar parallaxes had been obtained by the end of the 19th century by use of the filar micrometer. Astrographs using astronomical photographic plates sped the process in the early 20th century. Automated plate-measuring machines and more sophisticated computer technology of the 1960s allowed more efficient compilation of star catalogues. In the 1980s, charge-coupled devices replaced photographic plates and reduced optical uncertainties to one milliarcsecond. Stellar parallax remains the standard for calibrating other measurement methods. Accurate calculations of distance based on stellar parallax require a measurement of the distance from Earth to the Sun, now known to exquisite accuracy based on radar reflection off the surfaces of planets.
The angles involved in these calculations are small and thus difficult to measure. The nearest star to the Sun, Proxima Centauri, has a parallax of 0.7687 ± 0.0003 arcsec. This angle is that subtended by an object 2 centimeters in diameter located 5.3 kilometers away. In 1989 the satellite Hipparcos was launched for obtaining parallaxes and proper motions of nearby stars, increasing the number of stellar parallaxes measured to milliarcsecond accuracy a thousandfold. So, Hipparcos is only able to measure parallax angles for stars up to about 1,600 light-years away, a little more than one percent of the diameter of the Milky Way Galaxy; the Hubble telescope WFC3 now has a precision of 20 to 40 microarcseconds, enabling reliable distance measurements u
The Big Dipper or the Plough is a large asterism consisting of seven bright stars of the constellation Ursa Major. Four define a "bowl" or "body" and three define a "handle" or "head", it is recognized as a distinct grouping in many cultures. The North Star, the current northern pole star and the tip of the handle of the Little Dipper, can be located by extending an imaginary line through the front two stars of the asterism and Dubhe; this makes it useful in celestial navigation. The constellation of Ursa Major has been seen as a wagon, or a ladle; the "bear" tradition is Greek, but the name "bear" has parallels in Siberian or North American traditions. The name "Bear" is Homeric, native to Greece, while the "Wain" tradition is Mesopotamian. Book XVIII of Homer's Iliad mentions it as "the Bear, which men call the Wain". In Latin, these seven stars were known as the "Seven Oxen"; the classical mythographer identified the "Bear" as the nymph Callisto, changed into a she-bear by Hera, the jealous wife of Zeus.
In Ireland and the United Kingdom, this pattern is known as the Plough. The symbol of the Starry Plough has been used as a political symbol by Irish Republican and left wing movements. Former names include Butcher's Cleaver; the terms Charles's Wain and Charles his Wain are derived from the still older Carlswæn. A folk etymology holds that this derived from Charlemagne, but the name is common to all the Germanic languages and intended the churls' wagon, in contrast with the women's wagon. An older "Odin's Wain" may have preceded these Nordic designations. In German, it is known as the "Great Wagon" and, less the "Great Bear". In Scandinavia, it is known by variations of "Charles's Wagon", but the "Great Bear". In Dutch, its official name is the "Great Bear", but it is popularly known as the "Saucepan". In Italian, too, it is called the "Great Wagon". In Romanian and most Slavic languages, it is known as the "Great Wagon" as well. In Hungarian, it is called "Göncöl's Wagon" or, less "Big Göncöl" after a táltos in Hungarian mythology who carried medicine that could cure any disease.
In Finnish, the figure is known as Otava with established etymology in the archaic meaning'salmon net', although other uses of the word refer to'bear' and'wheel'. The bear relation is claimed to stem from the animal's resemblance to—and mythical origin from—the asterism rather than vice versa. In the Lithuanian language, the stars of Ursa Major are known as Didieji Grįžulo Ratai. Other names for the constellation include Perkūno Ratai, Kaušas, Vežimas, Samtis. In traditional Chinese astronomy, which continues to be used throughout East Asia, these stars are considered to compose the Right Wall of the Purple Forbidden Enclosure which surrounds the Northern Celestial Pole, although numerous other groupings and names have been made over the centuries; each star has a distinct name, which has varied over time and depending upon the asterism being constructed. The Western asterism is now known as the "Northern Dipper" or the "Seven Stars of the Northern Dipper"; the personification of the Big Dipper itself is known as "Doumu" in Chinese folk religion and Taoism, Marici in Buddhism.
In Shinto, the seven largest stars of Ursa Major belong to Amenominakanushi, the oldest and most powerful of all kami. In North Korea, the constellation is featured on the flag of the country's special forces. In South Korea, the constellation is referred to as "the seven stars of the north". In the related myth, a widow with seven sons found comfort with a widower, but to get to his house required crossing a stream; the seven sons, sympathetic to their mother, placed stepping stones in the river. Their mother, not knowing who put the stones in place, blessed them and, when they died, they became the constellation. In Malay, it is known as the "Boat Constellation". In Burmese, these stars are known as Pucwan Tārā. Pucwan is a general term for a crustacean, such as prawn, crab, etc. In Javanese, as known as "Bintang Kartika"; this name comes from Sanskrit. In ancient Javanese this brightest seven stars are known as Lintang Wuluh means "seven stars"; this star cluster is so popular because its emergence into the sky signals the time marker for planting.
In Hindu astronomy, it is referred to as the "Collection of Seven Great Sages", as each star is named after a mythical Hindu sage. An Arabian story has the four stars of the Plough's bowl as a coffin, with the three stars in the handle as mourners, following it. In Mongolian, it is known as the "Seven Gods". In Kazakh, they are known as the Jetiqaraqshi and, in Kyrgyz, as the Jetigen. While its Western origins come from its resemblance to the kitchen utensil, In Filipino, the Big Dipper and its sister constellation Little Dipper are more associated with the tabo, a hygiene tool akin to a bucket with a handl
Ursa Major is a constellation in the northern sky, whose associated mythology dates back into prehistory. Its Latin name means "greater she-bear", standing as a reference to and in direct contrast with nearby Ursa Minor, the lesser bear. In antiquity, it was one of the original 48 constellations listed by Ptolemy, is now the third largest constellation of the 88 modern constellations. Ursa Major is known from the asterism of its main seven bright stars comprising the "Big Dipper", "the Wagon", "Charles's Wain" or "the Plough", with its stellar configuration mimicking the shape of the "Little Dipper"; the general constellation outline significantly features in numerous world cultures, is used as a symbol of the north. E.g. as the flag of Alaska. The asterism's two brightest stars, named Dubhe and Merak, can be used as the navigational pointer towards the place of the current northern pole star, Polaris in Ursa Minor. Ursa Major is visible throughout the year from most of the northern hemisphere, appears circumpolar above the mid-northern latitudes.
From southern temperate latitudes, the main asterism is invisible, but the southern parts of the constellation can still be viewed. Appearing in the northern sky, Ursa Major occupies a large area covering 1279.66 square degrees or 3.10% of the total sky, making it the third largest constellations in the night sky. Eugène Delporte in 1930, who set the official International Astronomical Union constellation boundaries, formed a 28-sided irregular polygon, which according to the equatorial coordinate system, stretches between the right ascension coordinates of 08h 08.3m and 14h 29.0m and the declination coordinates of +28.30° and +73.14°. Ursa Major borders eight other constellations: Draco to the north and northeast, Boötes to the east, Canes Venatici to the east and southeast, Coma Berenices to the southeast and Leo Minor to the south, Lynx to the southwest and Camelopardalis to the northwest; the three-letter constellation abbreviation'UMa' was adopted by the IAU in 1922. The "Big Dipper" is an asterism within Ursa Major composed of seven bright stars that together comprise one of the best-known patterns in the sky.
Like many of its common names allude to, its shape is said to resemble either a ladle, an agricultural plough or wagon. Starting with the "ladle" portion of the dipper and extending clockwise through the handle, these stars are the following: α Ursae Majoris, known by the Arabic name Dubhe, which at a magnitude of 1.79 is the 35th-brightest star in the sky and the second-brightest of Ursa Major. Β Ursae Majoris, called Merak, with a magnitude of 2.37. Γ Ursae Majoris, known as either Phecda or Phad, with a magnitude of 2.44. Δ Ursae Majoris, or Megrez, meaning "root of the tail," referring to its location as the intersection of the body and tail of the bear. Ε Ursae Majoris, known as Alioth, a name which refers not to a bear but to a "black horse," the name corrupted from the original and mis-assigned to the named Alcor, the naked-eye binary companion of Mizar. Alioth is the brightest star of Ursa Major and the 33rd-brightest in the sky, with a magnitude of 1.76. It is the brightest of the "peculiar A stars," magnetic stars whose chemical elements are either depleted or enhanced, appear to change as the star rotates.
Ζ Ursae Majoris, the second star in from the end of the handle of the Big Dipper, the constellation's fourth-brightest star. Mizar, which means "girdle," forms a famous double star, with its optical companion Alcor, the two of which were termed the "horse and rider" by the Arabs; the ability to resolve the two stars with the naked eye is quoted as a test of eyesight, although people with quite poor eyesight can see the two stars. Η Ursae Majoris, known as either Alkaid or Benetnash, both meaning the "end of the tail." With a magnitude of 1.85, Alkaid is the third-brightest star of Ursa Major. Except for Dubhe and Alkaid, the stars of the Big Dipper all have proper motions heading toward a common point in Sagittarius. A few other such stars have been identified, together they are called the Ursa Major Moving Group; the stars Merak and Dubhe are known as the "pointer stars" because they are helpful for finding Polaris known as the North Star or Pole Star. By visually tracing a line from Merak through Dubhe and continuing for 5 units, one's eye will land on Polaris indicating true north.
Another asterism known as the "Three Leaps of the Gazelle" is recognized in Arab culture, a series of three pairs of stars found along the southern border of the constellation. W Ursae Majoris is the prototype of a class of contact binary variable stars, ranges between 7.75m and 8.48m. 47 Ursae Majoris is a Sun-like star with a three-planet system. 47 Ursae Majoris b, discovered in 1996, orbits every 1078 days and is 2.53 times the mass of Jupiter. 47 Ursae Majoris c, discovered in 2001, orbits every 2391 days and is 0.54 times the
In astronomy, luminosity is the total amount of energy emitted per unit of time by a star, galaxy, or other astronomical object. As a term for energy emitted per unit time, luminosity is synonymous with power. In SI units luminosity is measured in joules per second or watts. Values for luminosity are given in the terms of the luminosity of the Sun, L⊙. Luminosity can be given in terms of the astronomical magnitude system: the absolute bolometric magnitude 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 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, on any absorption of light along the path from object to observer. Apparent magnitude is a logarithmic measure of apparent brightness.
The distance determined by luminosity measures can be somewhat ambiguous, is thus sometimes called the luminosity distance. In astronomy, luminosity is the amount of electromagnetic energy; when not qualified, the term "luminosity" means bolometric luminosity, measured either in the SI units, watts, or in terms of solar luminosities. A bolometer is the instrument used to measure radiant energy over a wide band by absorption and measurement of heating. A star radiates neutrinos, which carry off some energy, contributing to the star's total luminosity; 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. While bolometers do exist, they cannot be used to measure 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, most 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 be calculated using a bolometric correction to a luminosity in a particular passband; the term luminosity is used in relation to particular passbands such as a visual luminosity of K-band luminosity. These are not 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. A star's luminosity can be determined from two stellar characteristics: size and effective temperature; the former is represented in terms of solar radii, R⊙, while the latter is represented in kelvins, but in most cases neither can be measured directly.
To determine a star's radius, two other metrics are needed: the star's angular diameter and its distance from Earth. Both can be measured with great accuracy in certain cases, with cool supergiants having large angular diameters, some cool evolved stars having masers in their atmospheres that can be used to measure the parallax using VLBI. However, for most stars the angular diameter or parallax, or both, are far below our ability to measure with any certainty. Since the effective temperature is a number that represents the temperature of a black body that would reproduce the luminosity, it cannot be measured directly, but it can be estimated from the spectrum. An alternative way to measure stellar luminosity is to measure the star's apparent brightness and distance. A third component needed to derive the luminosity is the degree of interstellar extinction, present, a condition that arises because of gas and dust present in the interstellar medium, the Earth's atmosphere, circumstellar matter.
One of astronomy's central challenges in determining a star's luminosity is to derive accurate measurements for each of these components, without which an accurate luminosity figure remains elusive. Extinction can only be measured directly if the actual and observed luminosities are both known, but it can be estimated from the observed colour of a star, using models of the expected level of reddening from the interstellar medium. In the current system of stellar classification, stars are grouped according to temperature, with the massive young and energetic Class O stars boasting temperatures in excess of 30,000 K while the less massive older Class M stars exhibit temperatures less than 3,500 K; because luminosity is proportional to temperature to the fourth power, the large variation in stellar temperatures produces an vaster variation in stellar luminosity. Because the luminosity depends on a high power of the stellar mass, high mass luminous stars have much shorter lifetimes; the most luminous stars are always young stars, no more than a few million years for the most extreme.
In the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram, the x-axis represents temperature or spectral type while the y-axis represents luminosity or magnitude. The vast majority of stars are found along the main sequence with blue Class O stars found at the top left of the chart while red Class M stars fall to the bottom right. Certain stars like Deneb and Betelgeuse are