The Hubble Space Telescope Key Project on the Extragalactic Distance Scale. XIII. The Metallicity Dependence of the Cepheid Distance Scale**Based on observations with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope obtained at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by AURA, Inc., under NASA Contract No. NAS5-26555. ****Observations reported here have been obtained in part with the Multiple Mirror Telescope (MMT), a joint facility of the University of Arizona and the Smithsonian Institution. Academic Article uri icon


  • Uncertainty in the metal-abundance dependence of the Cepheid variable period-luminosity (PL) relation remains one of the outstanding sources of systematic error in the extragalactic distance scale and in the Hubble constant. To test for such a metallicity dependence, we have used the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to observe Cepheids that span a range in oxygen abundance of 0.7 0.15 dex in two fields in the nearby spiral galaxy M101. A differential analysis of the PL relations in V and I in the two fields yields a marginally significant change in the inferred distance modulus on metal abundance, with (m-M)0/[O/H] = -0.24 0.16 mag dex-1. The trend is in the theoretically predicted sense that metal-rich Cepheids appear brighter and closer than metal-poor stars. External comparisons of Cepheid distances with those derived from three other distance indicators, in particular from the tip of the red giant branch method, further constrain the magnitude of any Z-dependence of the PL relation at V and I. The overall effects of any metallicity dependence on the distance scale derived with HST will be of the order of a few percent or less for most applications, though distances to individual galaxies at the extremes of the metal abundance range may be affected at the 10% level. 1993 The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

published proceedings

  • The Astrophysical Journal

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Kennicutt, R. C., Stetson, P. B., Saha, A., Kelson, D., Rawson, D. M., Sakai, S., ... Wood, P. R.

citation count

  • 249

complete list of authors

  • Kennicutt, Robert C||Stetson, Peter B||Saha, Abhijit||Kelson, Dan||Rawson, Daya M||Sakai, Shoko||Madore, Barry F||Mould, Jeremy R||Freedman, Wendy L||Bresolin, Fabio||Ferrarese, Laura||Ford, Holland||Gibson, Brad K||Graham, John A||Han, Mingsheng||Harding, Paul||Hoessel, John G||Huchra, John P||Hughes, Shaun MG||Illingworth, Garth D||Macri, Lucas M||Phelps, Randy L||Silbermann, Nancy A||Turner, Anne M||Wood, Peter R

publication date

  • May 1998