Traditionally, the distance to NGC 4038/39 has been derived from the systemic recession velocity, yielding about 20 Mpc for H 0 = 72 km s-1 Mpc-1. Recently, this widely adopted distance has been challenged based on photometry of the presumed tip of the red giant branch (TRGB), which seems to yield a shorter distance of 13.3 1.0 Mpc and, with it, nearly 1 mag lower luminosities and smaller radii for objects in this prototypical merger. Here we present a new distance estimate based on observations of the Type Ia supernova 2007sr in the southern tail, made at Las Campanas Observatory as part of the Carnegie Supernova Project. The resulting distance of D SN Ia = 22.3 2.8 Mpc [(m - M)0 = 31.74 0.27 mag] is in good agreement with a refined distance estimate based on the recession velocity and the large-scale flow model developed by Tonry and collaborators, D flow = 22.5 2.8 Mpc. We point out three serious problems that a short distance of 13.3 Mpc would entail, and trace the claimed short distance to a likely misidentification of the TRGB. Reanalyzing Hubble Space Telescope data in the Archive with an improved method, we find a TRGB fainter by 0.9 mag and derive from it a preliminary new TRGB distance of D TRGB = 20.0 1.6 Mpc. Finally, assessing our three distance estimates we recommend using a conservative, rounded value of D = 22 3 Mpc as the best currently available distance to the Antennae.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science