Surface brightness fluctuations in the Hubble Space Telescope ACS/WFC F814W bandpass and an update on galaxy distances

John P. Blakeslee, Michele Cantiello, Simona Mei, Patrick Côté, Regina Barber Degraaff, Laura Ferrarese, Andrés Jordán, Eric W. Peng, John L. Tonry, Guy Worthey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


We measure surface brightness fluctuation (SBF) magnitudes in the F814W filter and (g475-I814) colors for nine bright early-type Fornax cluster galaxies imaged with the Hubble Space Telescope Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). The goal is to achieve the first systematic SBF calibration for the ACS/F814W bandpass. Because of its much higher throughput, F814W is more efficient for SBF studies of distant galaxies than the ACS/F850LP bandpass that has been used to study nearby systems. Over the color range spanned by the sample galaxies, 1.06 < (g475-I814) < 1.32 (AB mag), the dependence of SBF magnitude m̄814 on (g475- I814) is linear to a good approximation, with slope ∼2. When the F850LP SBF distance measurements from the ACS Fornax Cluster Survey are used to derive absolute M̄814 magnitudes, the dependence on (g 475-I814) becomes extremely tight, with a slope of 1.8 ± 0.2 and a scatter of 0.03 mag. The small observed scatter indicates both that the estimated random errors are correct and that the intrinsic deviations from the SBF-color relation are strongly correlated between the F814W and F850LP bandpasses, as expected. The agreement with predictions from stellar population models is good, both in slope and zero point, indicating that our mean Fornax distance of 20 Mpc is accurate. The models predict curvature in the relation beyond the color limits of our sample; thus, the linear calibration should not be extrapolated naively. In the appendices, we reconsider the Tonry ground-based and Jensen NICMOS SBF distance catalogs; we provide a correction formula to ameliorate the small apparent bias in the former and the offset needed to make the latter consistent with other SBF studies. We also tabulate two new SBF distances to galaxies observed in the ACS Virgo Cluster Survey.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-668
Number of pages12
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 20 Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Cd
  • Galaxies: clusters: individual (fornax)
  • Galaxies: distances and redshifts
  • Galaxies: elliptical and lenticular


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