The ACS Virgo Cluster Survey consists of HST/ACS imaging for 100 early–type galaxies in the Virgo cluster, observed in the F475W(≈ SDSS g) and F850LP (≈ SDSS z) filters. We derive distances for 84 of these galaxies using the method of Surface Brightness Fluctuations (SBF), present the SBF distance catalog, and use this database to examine the three-dimensional distribution of early–type galaxies in the Virgo Cluster. The SBF distance moduli have a mean (random) measurement error of 0.07 mag (0.5 Mpc), or roughly three times better than previous SBF measurements for Virgo Cluster galaxies. Five galaxies lie at a distance of d ≈ 23 Mpc and are members of the W′ Cloud. The remaining 79 galaxies have a narrow distribution around our adopted distance of hdi = 16.5±0.1 (random mean error) ± 1.1 Mpc (systematic). The rms distance scatter of this sample is (d) = 0.6±0.1 Mpc, with little or no dependence on morphological type or luminosity class (i.e., 0.7±0.1 Mpc and 0.5±0.1 Mpc for the giants and dwarfs, respectively). The back-to-front depth of the cluster measured from our sample of early-type galaxies is 2.4±0.4 Mpc (i.e., ± 2 of the intrinsic distance distribution). The M87 (Cluster A) and M49 (Cluster B) subclusters are found to lie at distances of 16.7±0.2 and 16.4±0.2 Mpc, respectively. There may be a third subcluster associated with M86. A weak correlation between velocity and line-of-sight distance may be a faint echo of the cluster velocity distribution not having yet completely virialized. In three-dimensions, Virgo’s early-type galaxies appear to define a slightly triaxial distribution, with axis ratios of (1:0.7:0.5). The principal axis of the best-fit ellipsoid is inclined ∼ 20◦–40◦ from the line of sight, while the galaxies belonging to the W′ Cloud lie on an axis inclined by ∼ 10◦ − 15◦.

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/10.1086/509598

© 2006 The American Astronomical Society

Also archived in: arXiv:astro-ph/0702510 v1 Feb 20 2007

Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School of Physics and Astronomy (COS)


RIT – Main Campus