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Planetary nebulae as standard candles. VIII - Evidence for a change in the luminosity function cutoff at low metallicity
Ciardullo, Robin; Jacoby, George H.
AA(Pennsylvania State University, University Park), AB(Kitt Peak National Observatory, Tucson, AZ)
Astrophysical Journal, Part 1 (ISSN 0004-637X), vol. 388, April 1, 1992, p. 268-271. (ApJ Homepage)
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NASA/STI Keywords:
Galactic Bulge, Local Group (Astronomy), Luminosity, Planetary Nebulae, Red Shift, Andromeda Galaxy, Magellanic Clouds, Metallicity, Virgo Galactic Cluster
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A change in the forbidden O III 5007-A planetary nebula luminosity function (PNLF) with metallicity is searched for by combining the PN observations of four metal-poor galaxies in the Local Group: M32, NGC 185, NGC 205, and the Small Magellanic Cloud. It is shown that the most likely magnitude cutoff for the PNs in this sample is 0.28 +0.11/-0.17 mag fainter than the value of M* observed in the bulge of M31, but consistency with the M31 measurement cannot be ruled out beyond the 70-percent confidence level. The data suggest that PN-based distances may depend slightly on the underlying stellar population, with a factor of 10 in metal abundance translating into an apparent shift in the value of M* by 0.25 mag (D(PNLF) varies as Z exp -0.05). However, because this variation is small, and population differences among luminous early-type cluster galaxies are usually slight, the effect is not important for cosmological distance determinations. The observed shift in the luminosity function is in good agreement with the theoretically derived metallicity dependence of Dopita et al. (1992).

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