Detection of surface brightness fluctuations in NGC 4373 using the Hubble Space Telescope

Michael A. Pahre, Jeremy R. Mould, Alan Dressler, Jon A. Holtzman, Alan M. Watson, John S. Gallagher, Gilda E. Ballester, Christopher J. Burrows, Stefano Casertano, John T. Clarke, David Crisp, Richard E. Griffiths, Carl J. Grillmair, J. Jeff Hester, John G. Hoessel, Paul Scowen, Karl R. Stapelfeldt, John T. Trauger, James A. Westphal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Surface brightness fluctuations (SBF) have been detected for three elliptical galaxies - NGC 3379 in the Leo group, NGC 4406 in the Virgo cluster, and NGC 4373 in the Hydra-Centaurus supercluster -using marginally sampled, deep images taken with the Planetary Camera of the WFPC2 instrument on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). The power spectrum of the fluctuations image is well fitted by an empirical model of the point-spread function constructed using point sources identified in the field. Comparison with high-quality ground-based observations of all three galaxies show excellent agreement in the measurement of the distance modulus over a substantial range in distance. This demonstrates the capability of the Planetary Camera of WFPC2 to measure distances using the SBF technique despite the marginal sampling and small spatial coverage of the images. The residual variance due to unresolved sources in all three galaxies is only 2%-5% of the detected fluctuations signal, which confirms the advantage of HST imaging in minimizing the uncertainty of this SBF correction. Extensive consistency checks, including an independent SBF analysis using an alternate software package, suggest that our internal uncertainties are <0.02 mag. The fluctuations magnitude for NGC 4373 is IF814W = 31.31 ± 0.05 mag, corresponding to a distance modulus of (m - M)0 = 32.99 ± 0.11. This implies a peculiar velocity for this galaxy of 415 ± 330 km s-1, which is smaller than derived from the Dn-σ relation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-88
Number of pages10
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART 1
StatePublished - Apr 10 1999


  • Galaxies: distances and redshifts
  • Galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD
  • Galaxies: individual (NGC 4373)
  • Galaxies: stellar content

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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