The Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) Virgo Cluster Survey is a large program to image 100 early-type Virgo galaxies using the F475W and F850LP bandpasses of theWide Field Channel of the ACS instrument on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). The scientific goals of this survey include an exploration of the three-dimensional structure of the Virgo Cluster and a critical examination of the usefulness of the globular cluster luminosity function as a distance indicator. Both of these issues require accurate distances for the full sample of 100 program galaxies. In this paper, we describe our data reduction procedures and examine the feasibility of accurate distance measurements using the method of surface brightness fluctuations (SBF) applied to the ACS Virgo Cluster Survey F850LP imaging. The ACS exhibits significant geometrical distortions due to its off-axislocation in the HST focal plane; correcting for these distortions by resampling the pixel values onto an undistorted frame results in pixel correlations that depend on the nature of the interpolation kernel used for the resampling. This poses a major challenge for the SBF technique, which normally assumes a flat power spectrum for the noise. We investigate a number of different interpolation kernels and show through an analysis of simulated galaxy images having realistic noise properties that it is possible, depending on the kernel, to measure SBF distances using distortion-corrected ACS images without introducing significant additional error from the resampling. We conclude by showing examples of real image power spectra from our survey.

Publication Date



This is the pre-print of an article published by the American Astronomical Society. The final, published version is available here: https://doi.org/10.1086/426544

© 2005 The American Astronomical Society.

Also archived in: arXiv: astro-ph/0501325 v1 16 Jan 2005

Support for program GO-9401 was provided through a grant from the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA contract NAS5-26555. ACS was developed under NASA contract NAS 5-32865. S.M. and J.P.B. acknowledge additional support from NASA grant NAG5-7697 to the ACS Team. A.J. acknowledges support provided by the National Science Foundation through a grant from the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NSF cooperative agreement AST-9613615, and by Fundacion Andes under project No.C-13442. P.C. acknowledges support provided by NASA LTSA grant NAG5-11714. D.M. is supported by NSF grant AST-020631, NASA grant NAG5-9046, and grant HST-AR-09519.01-A from STScI. M.M. acknowledges support from the Sherman M. Fairchild foundation. M.J.W. acknowledges support through NSF grant AST-0205960.

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Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School of Physics and Astronomy (COS)


RIT – Main Campus