Accurate Distances to Important Spiral Galaxies: M63, M74, NGC 1291, NGC 4559, NGC 4625, and NGC 5398

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The Astronomical Journal, ISSN: 0004-6256, Vol: 154, Issue: 2

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Kristen. B. W. McQuinn; Evan D. Skillman; Andrew E. Dolphin; Danielle Berg; Robert Kennicutt
American Astronomical Society
Physics and Astronomy; Earth and Planetary Sciences
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article description
Accurate distances are fundamental for interpreting various measured properties of galaxies. Surprisingly, many of the best-studied spiral galaxies in the Local Volume have distance uncertainties that are much larger than can be achieved with modern observation techniques. Using Hubble Space Telescopeoptical imaging, we use the tip of the red giant branch method to measure the distances to six galaxies that are included in the Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxies Survey program and its offspring surveys. The sample includes M63, M74, NGC 1291, NGC 4559, NGC 4625, and NGC 5398. We compare our results with distances reported to these galaxies based on a variety of methods. Depending on the technique, there can be a wide range in published distances, particularly from the Tully-Fisher relation. In addition, differences between the planetary nebular luminosity function and surface brightness fluctuation techniques can vary between galaxies, suggesting inaccuracies that cannot be explained by systematics in the calibrations. Our distances improve upon previous results, as we use a well-calibrated, stable distance indicator, precision photometry in an optimally selected field of view, and a Bayesian maximum likelihood technique that reduces measurement uncertainties.