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Paper: Future Directions for the Planetary Nebula Luminosity Function
Volume: 167, Harmonizing Cosmic Distance Scales in a Post-Hipparcos Era
Page: 175
Authors: Jacoby, George H.; Ciardullo, Robin; Feldmeier, John J.
Abstract: For the past 10 years, the planetary nebula luminosity function (PNLF) has been used effectively in galaxies of most Hubble types for distance measurements within ~ 20~Mpc. We review the technique's theoretical foundations, and the reasons why the method is insensitive to age and metallicity differences in galaxies. We also illustrate through comparisons with Cepheid distances that the method is secure against observational bias at the ~ 5% level. We note that, although 8-m class telescopes that promise superior image quality are nearing completion, the useful range of the PNLF can be extended only by a factor of ~2. Consequently, the usefulness of the method for resolving questions relating to the large scale Hubble flow is limited. However, the PNLF continues to offer advantages over other distance indicators under special circumstances, and it provides a new probe into the structure and origin of galaxy clusters.
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