M. L. Graham, D. J. Sand, D. Zaritsky, C. J. Pritchet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


We present deep Hubble Space Telescope imaging at the locations of four, potentially hostless, long-faded Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) in low-redshift, rich galaxy clusters that were identified in the Multi-Epoch Nearby Cluster Survey. Assuming a steep faint-end slope for the galaxy cluster luminosity function (αd = - 1.5), our data include all but ≲0.2% of the stellar mass in cluster galaxies (≲0.005% with αd = - 1.5), a factor of 10 better than our ground-based imaging. Two of the four SNe Ia still have no possible host galaxy associated with them (MR > - 9.2 ), confirming that their progenitors belong to the intracluster (IC) stellar population. The third SN Ia appears near a faint disk galaxy (MV = - 12.2), which has a relatively high probability of being a chance alignment. A faint, red point source coincident with the fourth SN Ia's explosion position (MV = - 8.4) may be either a globular cluster (GC) or a faint dwarf galaxy. We estimate the local surface densities of GCs and dwarfs to show that a GC is more likely, due to the proximity of an elliptical galaxy, but neither can be ruled out. This faint host implies that the SN Ia rate in dwarfs or GCs may be enhanced, but remains within previous observational constraints. We demonstrate that our results do not preclude the use of SNe Ia as bright tracers of IC light at higher redshifts, but that it will be necessary to first refine the constraints on their rate in dwarfs and GCs with deep imaging for a larger sample of low-redshift, apparently hostless SNe Ia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number83
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


  • galaxies: clusters: general
  • galaxies: clusters: intracluster medium
  • supernovae: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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