The planetary nebula system and dynamics of NGC 5128. I. Planetary nebulae as standard candles

Xiaohui Hui, Holland C. Ford, Robin Ciardullo, George H. Jacoby

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We present the result of a planetary nebula (PN) survey of the nearby giant elliptical galaxy NGC 5128 performed with CCD cameras at the prime focus of the CTIO 4 m telescope. By comparing CCD images centered on the characteristic emission line [O III] λ5007 and on the adjacent continuum, we identify a total of 785 PNs in areas extending 20 kpc along the photometric major axis and covering the whole galaxy to 10 kpc. From these data, we form a complete sample of 224 PNs extending to a dereddened limiting magnitude of m5007 = 24.8, which extends 1.5 mag down the PN luminosity function (PNLF). Adopting a foreground extinction of E(B-V) = 0.1, we derive a distance to the galaxy of 3.5 ± 0.2 Mpc, in excellent agreement with the surface brightness fluctuation method. No population effect on the bright cutoff of PNLF is observed in the isophotal radius range of 2-16 kpc, but the luminosity specific PN density (α2.5) seems to increase with radius inside of 7 kpc, in agreement with the α2.5-color relation observed for other galaxies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-473
Number of pages11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 10 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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