A revised planetary nebula luminosity function distance to NGC 628 using muse
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Distance uncertainties plague our understanding of the physical scales relevant to the physics of star formation in extragalactic studies. The planetary nebulae luminosity function (PNLF) is one of very few techniques that can provide distance estimates to within similar to 10%; however, it requires a planetary nebula (PN) sample that is uncontaminated by other ionizing sources. We employ optical integral field unit spectroscopy using the Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer on the Very Large Telescope to measure [O III] line fluxes for sources unresolved on 50 pc scales within the central star-forming galaxy disk of NGC 628. We use diagnostic line ratios to identify 62 PNe, 30 supernova remnants, and 87 H II regions within our fields. Using the 36 brightest PNe, we determine a new PNLF distance modulus of 29.91(-0.13)(+0.08) mag (9.59(-0.57)(+0.35) Mpc), which is in good agreement with literature values, but significantly larger than the previously reported PNLF distance. We are able to explain the discrepancy and recover the previous result when we reintroduce SNR contaminants to our sample. This demonstrates the power of full spectral information over narrowband imaging in isolating PNe. Given our limited spatial coverage within the Galaxy, we show that this technique can be used to refine distance estimates, even when IFU observations cover only a fraction of a galaxy disk.
Artículo de publicación SCOPUS