Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
104: 599-662, 1992 August

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A CRITICAL REVIEW OF SELECTED TECHNIQUES FOR MEASURING EXTRAGALACTIC DISTANCES

George H. Jacoby

Kitt Peak National Observatory, National Optical Astronomy Observatories, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726
Electronic mail: gjacoby@noao.edu

David Branch

Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma 73019
Electronic mail: branch@phyast.nhn.uoknor.edu

Robin Ciardullo

Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Penn State University, 525 Davey Lab, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802
Electronic mail: rbc@astro.psu.edu

Roger L. Davies

Department of Physics, Astrophysics Group, Oxford University, Keble Road, Oxford OX1 3RH, England
Electronic mail: rld@astro.ox.ac.uk

William E. Harris

Department of Physics and Astronomy, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4M1, Canada
Electronic mail: harris@physun.physics.mcmaster.ca

Michael J. Pierce

Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, Current address: Kitt Peak National Observatory, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona, 85726
Electronic mail: mpierce@noao.edu

Christopher J. Pritchet

Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Victoria, P.O.B. 3055, Victoria, British Columbia, V8W 3P6, Canada
Electronic mail: pritchet@uvphys.bitnet

John L. Tonry

Department of Physics, Massachusettes Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02139
Electronic mail: jt@antares.mit.edu

Douglas L. Welch

Department of Physics and Astronomy, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4M1, Canada
Electronic mail: welch@physun.physics.mcmaster.ca


ABSTRACT. We review seven of the most reliable techniques used for deriving distances to galaxies as far away as 100 Mpc: globular cluster luminosity functions (GCLF), novae, Type Ia supernovae (SN Ia), HI-line width relations, planetary nebula luminosity functions (PNLF), surface brightness fluctuations (SBF), and fundamental plane relationships for elliptical galaxies (Dn - sigma). In addition, we examine the use of Cepheid variables since these serve to set zero points for most of the methods. We pay particular attention to the uncertainties inherent in these methods, both internal and external. We then test these uncertainties by comparing distances derived with each technique to distances derived from surface brightness fluctuations. We find that there are small systematic offsets between the PNLF, GCLF, and SBF methods, with the PNLF and GCLF distances being on average 6% and 13% larger than those of the SBF method. The dispersion between the PNLF and SBF distances is 8%; the GCLF-SBF dispersion is 16%, the SN Ia-SBF dispersion is 28%, the Dn-sigma-SBF dispersion is 26%, and the Tully-Fisher-SBF dispersion is 32%. The latter value drops to 14%, however, when one considers only well mixed groups, suggesting that the spiral galaxies measured with Tully-Fisher are not always spatially coincident with the groups' elliptical galaxies. In the mean, all the methods agree extremely well. We also present a summary of distances to the Virgo Cluster. Weighted and unweighted averages of the 7 methods yield Virgo distances of 16.0 ± 1.7 and 17.6 ± 2.2 Mpc, respectively. The overlap among all the indicators is well within the expected accuracies of the methods, thus removing any evidence for a distance scale controversy. Using the weighted or unweighted Virgo distances to bootstrap to the Coma Cluster, we find the Hubble constant to be either 80 ± 11 or 73 ± 11 km s-1 Mpc-1, respectively.

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