The milky way, local galaxies, and the infrared tully-fisher relation

Sangeeta Malhotra, David N. Spergel, James E. Rhoads, L. I. Jing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Using the near-infrared fluxes of local galaxies derived from Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE)/ Diffuse Infrared Background Experiment (DIRBE)5 J- (1.25 μm) K- (2.2 μm), and L-band (3.5 μm) maps and published Cepheid distances, we construct Tully-Fisher (TF) diagrams for nearby galaxies. The measured dispersions in these luminosity-line width diagrams are remarkably small : σJ = 0.09 mag, σK = 0.13 mag, and σL = 0.20 mag. These dispersions include contributions from the intrinsic TF relation scatter and the errors in estimated galaxy distances, fluxes, inclination angles, extinction corrections, and circular speeds. For the J and K bands, Monte Carlo simulations give a 95% confidence interval upper limit on the true scatter in the TF diagram of σJ ≤ 0.35 and σK ≤ 0.45. We determine the Milky Way's luminosity and place it in the TF diagram by fitting a bar plus exponential disk model of the Milky Way to the all-sky DIRBE maps. For " standard " values of its size and circular speed (Sun-Galactic center distance R0 = 8.5 kpc and 0 = 220 km s-1), the Milky Way lies within 1.5 σ of the TF relations. We can use the TF relation and the Cepheid distances to nearby bright galaxies to constrain R0 and 0: 1.63 log (0/220 km s-1) - log (R0/8.5 kpc) = 0.08 ±0.03. Alternatively, we can fix the parameters of the Galaxy to their standard values, ignore the Cepheid zero point, and use the TF relation to determine the Hubble constant directly: H0 = 72 ±12 km s-1 Mpc-1. We have also tested the TF relation at longer wavelengths, where the emission is dominated by dust. We find no evidence for a TF relation at wavelengths beyond 10 μm. The tight correlation seen in the L band suggests that stellar emission dominates over the 3.3 μm polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon emission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)687-691
Number of pages5
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 PART I
StatePublished - 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Galaxies: distances and redshifts
  • Galaxies: fundamental parameters
  • Galaxies: photometry


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