A new technique for measuring extragalactic distances

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A relatively direct technique of determining extragalactic distances is described. The method relies on measuring the luminosity fluctuations that arise from the counting statistics of the stars contributing the flux in each pixel of a high signal-to-noise CCD image of a galaxy. The amplitude of these fluctuations is inversely proportional to the distance of the galaxy. This approach bypasses most of the successive stages of calibration required in the traditional extragalactic distance ladder; the only serious drawback to this method is that it requires an accurate knowledge of the bright end of the luminosity function. Potentially, this method can produce accurate distances of elliptical galaxies and spiral bulges at distances out to about 20 Mpc. In this paper, it is explained how to calculate the value of the fluctuations, taking into account various sources of contamination and the effects of finite spatial resolution, and the feasibility and limitations of this technique are demonstrated via simulations and CCD images of M 32 and N 3379.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)807-815
JournalAstronomical Journal
StatePublished - Sep 1 1988
Externally publishedYes

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