The Dynamical Distance to M15: Estimates of the Cluster's Age and Mass and of the Absolute Magnitude of Its RR Lyrae Stars
Newly determined high-precision relative proper motions determined from the Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 are used along with radial velocity measurements to determine the dynamical distance to the globular cluster M15. A comparison of the proper motion and radial velocity dispersions from a sample of 237 stars, located at an average radial distance of about 10" from the cluster center, yields a cluster distance of 9.98+/-0.47 kpc. This distance agrees to within the stated errors to other distance estimates but places this object about 5% closer than the currently adopted value of 10.4 kpc. Using this new distance, we estimate that RR Lyrae stars having [Fe/H]=-2.15 have a value of Mv(RR)=0.51+/-0.11. We also estimate that M15 has an age of about 13.2 Gyr, which places it among the oldest of the Galactic globular clusters. From a comparison of the observed velocity dispersion with results from recent N-body calculations, we derive a total cluster mass for M15 of MC=4.5×105Msolar.