Calibration of the mid-infrared tully-fisher relation

Jenny G. Sorce, Hélène M. Courtois, R. Brent Tully, Mark Seibert, Victoria Scowcroft, Wendy L. Freedman, Barry F. Madore, S. Eric Persson, Andy Monson, Jane Rigby

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Distance measures on a coherent scale around the sky are required to address the outstanding cosmological problems of the Hubble constant and of departures from the mean cosmic flow. The correlation between galaxy luminosities and rotation rates can be used to determine the distances to many thousands of galaxies in a wide range of environments potentially out to 200 Mpc. Mid-infrared (3.6 μm) photometry with the Spitzer Space Telescope is particularly valuable as a source of luminosities because it provides products of uniform quality across the sky. From a perch above the atmosphere, essentially the total magnitude of targets can be registered in exposures of a few minutes. Extinction is minimal and the flux is dominated by the light from old stars, which is expected to correlate with the mass of the targets. In spite of the superior photometry, the correlation between mid-infrared luminosities and rotation rates extracted from neutral hydrogen profiles is slightly degraded from the correlation found with I-band luminosities. A color correction recovers a correlation that provides comparable accuracy to that available at the I band (20% 1σ in an individual distance) while retaining the advantages identified above. Without color correction, the relation between linewidth and [3.6] magnitudes is M b, i, k, a [3.6] = -20.34-9.74(logWi mx-2.5). This description is found with a sample of 213 galaxies in 13 clusters that define the slope and 26 galaxies with Cepheid or tip of the red giant branch distances that define the zero point. A color-corrected parameter is constructed that has reduced scatter: . Consideration of the seven calibration clusters beyond 50 Mpc, outside the domain of obvious peculiar velocities, provides a preliminary Hubble constant estimate of H 0 = 74 ± 4 km s-1 Mpc-1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number94
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 10 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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