3 years ago

A Near-Infrared Period-Luminosity Relation for Miras in NGC 4258, an Anchor for a New Distance Ladder.

Richard I. Anderson, Patricia A. Whitelock, Stefano Casertano, Adam G. Riess, Caroline D. Huang, Lucas M. Macri, David O. Jones, Wenlong Yuan, Joshua Bloom, Samantha L. Hoffmann, Christopher Klein

We present year-long, near-infrared Hubble Space Telescope WFC3 observations of Mira variables in the water megamaser host galaxy NGC 4258. Miras are AGB variables that can be divided into oxygen- (O-) and carbon- (C-) rich subclasses. Oxygen-rich Miras follow a tight (scatter $\sim 0.14$ mag) Period-Luminosity Relation (PLR) in the near-infrared and can be used to measure extragalactic distances. The water megamaser in NGC 4258 gives a geometric distance to the galaxy accurate to 2.6% that can serve to calibrate the Mira PLR. We develop criteria for detecting and classifying O-rich Miras with optical and NIR data as well as NIR data alone. In total, we discover 438 Mira candidates that we classify with high confidence as O-rich. Our most stringent criteria produce a sample of 139 Mira candidates that we use to measure a PLR. We use the OGLE-III sample of O-rich Miras in the LMC to obtain a relative distance modulus, $\mu_{4258} - \mu_{LMC} = 10.95 \pm 0.01 $ (statistical) $\pm 0.06 $ (systematic) mag in good agreement with the relative distance determined using Cepheids. These results demonstrate the feasibility of discovering and characterizing Miras using the near-infrared with the Hubble Space Telescope and the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope and using them to measure extragalactic distances and determine the Hubble constant.

Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1801.02711

DOI: arXiv:1801.02711v1

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