NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2009A-0272

Small NOAO Logo

Proposal Information for 2009A-0272


PI: Robin Ciardullo, Penn State University, rbc@astro.psu.edu
Address: Astronomy Department, 525 Davey Lab, University Park, PA 16802, USA

CoI: John Feldmeier, Youngstown State University
CoI: George Jacoby, NOAO

Title: The Distance to the Antennae Galaxy

Abstract: The Antennae Galaxy (NGC 4038/39) is a key member of Toomre sequence of merging galaxies, and an important astrophysical laboratory for a host of exotic objects, such as ultra luminous x-ray sources, super star clusters, and tidal dwarf galaxies. Yet the distance to the system is extremely controversial, with recent estimates ranging from 13.3 Mpc (Saviane \etal 2008) to 22.3 Mpc (Schweizer \etal 2008). Since this uncertainty effects all our astrophysical measurements, it is vital that the question be settled. We propose to measure the distance to the Antennae galaxy using the Planetary Nebula Luminosity Function. If the distance to the Antennae is ~ 13 Mpc, an [O III] (lambda) 5007, H(alpha), and broadband survey of the galaxy with the CTIO 4-m telescope will be able to detect ~ 100 PNe with one night of observing; if the distance is ~ 22.3 Mpc, the survey will take ~ 3 nights. Either way, we will be able to produce a definitive distance to this important system. Finally, if the closer distance is correct, our survey will also produce a large sample of PNe for a future kinematic study of the galaxy.


National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726, Phone: (520) 318-8000, Fax: (520) 318-8360



NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2009A-0272

noaoprop-help@noao.edu

Small NOAO Logo