The Mira-based Distance to the Galactic Center

Wenzer Qin, David M. Nataf, Nadia Zakamska, Peter R. Wood, Luca Casagrande

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    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Mira variables are useful distance indicators, due to their high luminosities and well-defined period-luminosity relation. We select 1863 Miras from SAAO and MACHO observations to examine their use as distance estimators in the Milky Way. We measure a distance to the Galactic center of R 0 = 7.9 ±0.3 kpc, which is in good agreement with other literature values. The uncertainty has two components of ∼0.2 kpc each: the first is from our analysis and predominantly due to interstellar extinction, the second is due to zero-point uncertainties extrinsic to our investigation, such as the distance to the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). In an attempt to improve existing period-luminosity calibrations, we use theoretical models of Miras to determine the dependence of the period-luminosity relation on age, metallicity, and helium abundance, under the assumption that Miras trace the bulk stellar population. We find that at a fixed period of log P = 2.4, changes in the predicted K s magnitudes can be approximated by ΔMKs ≈ -0.109(Δ[Fe/H]) + 0.033(Δt/ Gyr) + 0.021(ΔY/0.01), and these coefficients are nearly independent of period. The expected overestimate in the Galactic center distance from using an LMC-calibrated relation is ∼0.3 kpc. This prediction is not validated by our analysis; a few possible reasons are discussed. We separately show that while the predicted color-color diagrams of solar-neighborhood Miras work well in the near-infrared; though, there are offsets from the model predictions in the optical and mid-infrared.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number47
    JournalAstrophysical Journal
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2018


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