Theoretical clues to the ultraviolet diversity of type Ia supernovae

Peter J. Brown, E. Baron, Peter Milne, Peter W.A. Roming, Lifan Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The effect of metallicity on the observed light of Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) could lead to systematic errors as the absolute magnitudes of local and distant SNe Ia are compared to measure luminosity distances and determine cosmological parameters. The UV light may be especially sensitive to metallicity, though different modeling methods disagree as to the magnitude, wavelength dependence, and even the sign of the effect. The outer density structure, 56Ni, and to a lesser degree asphericity, also impact the UV. We compute synthetic photometry of various metallicity-dependent models and compare to UV/optical photometry from the Swift Ultra-Violet/Optical Telescope. We find that the scatter in the mid-UV to near-UV colors is larger than predicted by changes in metallicity alone and is not consistent with reddening. We demonstrate that a recently employed method to determine relative abundances using UV spectra can be done using UVOT photometry, but we warn that accurate results require an accurate model of the cause of the variations. The abundance of UV photometry now available should provide constraints on models that typically rely on UV spectroscopy for constraining metallicity, density, and other parameters. Nevertheless, UV spectroscopy for a variety of supernova explosions is still needed to guide the creation of accurate models. A better understanding of the influences affecting the UV is important for using SNe Ia as cosmological probes, as the UV light may test whether SNe Ia are significantly affected by evolutionary effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number37
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 10 2015


  • distance scale
  • methods: numerical
  • supernovae: general
  • supernovae: individual (SN2011by, SN2011fe)
  • ultraviolet: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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