Milky Way Zero-Point Calibration of the JAGB Method: Using Thermally Pulsing AGB Stars in Galactic Open Clusters

Barry F. Madore, Wendy L. Freedman, Abigail J. Lee, Kayla Owens

Submitted on 16 September 2022


We present a new calibration of the J-band absolute magnitude of the JAGB method based on thermally pulsing AGB stars that are members of Milky Way open clusters, having distances and reddenings, independently compiled and published by Marigo et al (2022). 17 of these photometrically-selected J-Branch AGB stars give M_J = -6.40 mag with a scatter of +/-0.40 mag, and a sigma on the mean of +/-0.10 mag. Combining the Milky Way field carbon star calibration of Lee et al. (2021) with this determination gives a weighted average of M_J(MW) = -6.19 +/- 0.04 mag (error on the mean). This value is statistically indistinguishable from the value determined for this population of distance indicators in the LMC and SMC, giving further evidence that JAGB stars are extremely reliable distance indicators of high luminosity and universal applicability. Combining the zero points for JAGB stars in these three systems, a value of M_J = -6.20 +/- 0.01 (stat) +/- 0.04 (sys) mag becomes our best current estimate of the JAGB zero point and its associated errors. Finally, we note that no evidence is found for any statistically significant dependence of this zero point on metallicity.


Comment: Accepted to the Astrophysical Journal Sept 15 2022

Subject: Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies