Intracluster supernovae in the multi-epoch nearby cluster survey

David J. Sand, Melissa L. Graham, Chris Bildfell, Ryan J. Foley, Chris Pritchet, Dennis Zaritsky, Henk Hoekstra, Dennis W. Just, Stéphane Herbert-Fort, Suresh Sivanandam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The Multi-Epoch Nearby Cluster Survey has discovered 23 cluster Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) in the 58 X-ray-selected galaxy clusters (0.05 ≲z≲ 0.15) surveyed. Four of our SN Ia events have no host galaxy on close inspection, and are likely intracluster SNe. Although one of the candidates, Abell399-3-14-0, appears to be associated in projection with the outskirts of a nearby red sequence galaxy, its velocity offset of 1000 km s-1 indicates that it is unbound and therefore an intracluster SN. Another of our candidates, Abell85-6-08-0, has a spectrum consistent with an SN1991bg-like object, suggesting that at least some portion of intracluster stars belong to an old stellar population. Deep image stacks at the location of the candidate intracluster SNe put upper limits on the luminosities of faint hosts, with Mr ≳ -13.0 mag and Mg ≳ -12.5 mag in all cases. For such limits, the fraction of the cluster luminosity in faint dwarfs below our detection limit is ≲0.1%, assuming a standard cluster luminosity function. All four events occurred within 600 kpc of the cluster center (projected), as defined by the position of the brightest cluster galaxy, and are more centrally concentrated than the cluster SN Ia population as a whole. After accounting for several observational biases that make intracluster SNe easier to discover and spectroscopically confirm, we calculate an intracluster stellar mass fraction of 0.16+0.13 -0.09 (68% confidence limit) for all objects within R 200. If we assume that the intracluster stellar population is exclusively old, and the cluster galaxies themselves have a mix of stellar ages, we derive an upper limit on the intracluster stellar mass fraction of <0.47 (84% one-sided confidence limit). When combined with the intragroup SNe results of McGee & Balogh, we confirm the declining intracluster stellar mass fraction as a function of halo mass reported by Gonzalez and collaborators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number142
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 10 2011


  • galaxies: clusters: general
  • supernovae: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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