Word of the Week: Absolute Magnitude

A measure of how bright a Solar System object would be if it were located at a standard distance of 1 AU (astronomical unit) from both Earth and the Sun. Absolute magnitude allows astronomers to compare the inherent brightness of objects, regardless of their distance from Earth.

Bennu, which produces no light of its own and reflects very little sunlight, has an absolute magnitude of 20.2 Objects that are larger or paler reflect more light and have lower absolute magnitudes. Ceres, for example, has an absolute magnitude of 3.3.

Compare with Apparent Magnitude.

Credit: University of Arizona


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