The gravitational wave luminosity in the quadrupole approximation is obtained by integrating the energy flux from Equation (14) over a distant sphere. When one correctly takes into account the projection factors mentioned after Equation (2), one obtains [262]

where is the trace of the matrix . This equation can be used to estimate the backreaction effect on a system that emits gravitational radiation.Notice that the expression for is dimensionless when . It can be converted to normal luminosity units by multiplying by the scale factor

This is an enormous luminosity. By comparison, the luminosity of the sun is only 3.8 × 10Combining Equations (2) and (15) one can derive a simple expression for the apparent luminosity of radiation , at great distances from the source, in terms of the gravitational wave amplitude [335]:

The above relation can be used to make an order-of-magnitude estimate of the gravitational wave amplitude from a knowledge of the rate at which energy is emitted by a source in the form of gravitational waves. If a source at a distance radiates away energy in a time , predominantly at a frequency , then writing and noting that , the amplitude of gravitational waves is When the time development of a signal is known, one can filter the detector output through a copy of the expected signal (see Section 5 on matched filtering). This leads to an enhancement in the SNR, as compared to its narrow-band value, by roughly the square root of the number of cycles the signal spends in the detector band. It is useful, therefore, to define an effective amplitude of a signal, which is a better measure of its detectability than its raw amplitude: Now, a signal lasting for a time around a frequency would produce cycles. Using this we can eliminate from Equation (18) and get the effective amplitude of the signal in terms of the energy, the emitted frequency and the distance to the source: Notice that this depends on the energy only through the total fluence, or time-integrated flux of the wave. As in many other branches of astronomy, the detectability of a source is ultimately a function of its apparent luminosity and the observing time. However, one should not ignore the dependence on frequency in this formula. Two sources with the same fluence are not equally easy to detect if they are at different frequencies: higher frequency signals have smaller amplitudes.

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