ngc 55 galaxy in Sculptor

ngc 55 edge on galaxy

We have detected, for the first time, Cepheid variables in the Sculptor Group SB(s)m galaxy NGC 55. From wide-field images obtained in the optical V and I bands during 77 nights in 2002-2003, we have found 143 Cepheids with periods ranging from 5.6 to 175.9 days; 133 of these objects have periods longer than 10 days, making NGC 55 to date the galaxy with the largest known number of long-period Cepheids in the Sculptor Group. We construct period-luminosity relations from our data and obtain distance moduli corrected for the small foreground reddening to NGC 55 of 26.79 ? 0.04 mag (internal error) in V, 26.66 ? 0.03 mag in I, and 26.40 ? 0.05 mag in the reddening-independent V - I Wesenheit index. The trend of increasing distance moduli with shorter wavelength hints at the existence of significant reddening intrinsic to NGC 55, which affects the measured Cepheid magnitudes. From our data we determine the intrinsic mean reddening of the Cepheids in NGC 55 as E(B - V) = 0.102 mag, which brings the distance determinations from the different bands into excellent agreement. Our best distance estimate for NGC 55 from the present optical Cepheid photometry is 26.40 ? 0.05 (internal error) ?0.09 mag (systematic error). This value is tied to an assumed LMC distance of 18.50 mag. Our quoted systematic error of the present NGC 55 Cepheid distance does not take into account the current uncertainty in the distance of the fiducial LMC galaxy itself. Within the small respective uncertainties, the Sculptor Group galaxies NGC 55 and NGC 300 are at the same distance of 1.9 Mpc, strengthening the case for a physical association of these galaxies.