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The Australia Telescope National Facility Colloquium
15:30-16:30 Thu 09 Nov 2006

AAO Lecture Theatre

Lucas Macri


Improving the Extragalactic Distance Scale: HST & Gemini Observations of Cepheids in the Maser-Host Galaxy NGC 4258 - Dr Lucas Macri Colloquium

We present initial results from a time-series BVI survey of two fields in NGC 4258 using the Advanced Camera for Surveys onboard the Hubble Space Telescope. This galaxy was selected because of its accurate maser-based distance, which is anticipated to have a total uncertainty of ~3%. The goal of the HST observations is to provide an absolute calibration of the Cepheid Distance Scale and to measure its dependence on chemical abundance (the so-called "metallicity effect"). We carried out observations of two fields at different galactocentric distances with a mean abundance difference of 0.5 dex. We discovered a total of 281 Cepheids with periods ranging from 4 to 45 days (the duration of our observing window). We determine a Cepheid distance modulus for NGC 4258 (relative to the LMC) of 10.88 +- 0.04 (random) +- 0.05 (systematic) mag. Given the published maser distance to the galaxy, this implies mu (LMC)=18.41 +- 0.10 (r) +- 0.13 (s) mag or D(LMC)= 48.1 +- 2.3 (r) +- 2.9 (s) kpc. We measure a metallicity effect of gamma=-0.29 +- 0.09 (r) +- 0.05 (s) mag/dex. We see no evidence for a variation in the slope of the Period-Luminosity relation as a function of abundance. We estimate a Hubble Constant of H_0= 74 +- 3 (r) +- 6 (s) km/s Mpc using a recent sample of 4 well-observed type Ia SNe and our new calibration of the Cepheid Distance Scale. It may soon be possible to measure the value of H_0 with a total uncertainty of 5%, with consequent improvement in the determination of the equation of state of dark energy.

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Ilana Feain

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