The planetary nebula distance to M101

John J. Feldmeier, Robin Ciardullo, George H. Jacody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report the results of an [O III] λ5007 survey for planetary nebulae (PNs) in the giant Sc galaxy M101 (NGC 5457). By comparing on-band/off-band [O III] λ5007 images with images taken in Ha and the R-band filter, we identify 65 PN candidates in the interarm and outer regions of the galaxy. From these data and the empirical planetary nebula luminosity function (PNLF), we derive a distance to the galaxy of 7.7 ± 0.5 Mpc, in excellent agreement with the distance of 7.4 ±0.7 Mpc measured using Bubble Space Telescope observations of Cepheids (Kelson and coworkers). This observation demonstrates that the PNLF technique can be successfully applied to late-type galaxies, and provides an important overlap between the Population I and Population II distance scales. It also places a strong limit on the possible variation of the PNLF with population age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L25-L28
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART II
StatePublished - 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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