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Published November 2009 | Published
Journal Article Open

An Intensive Hubble Space Telescope Survey for z > 1 Type Ia Supernovae by Targeting Galaxy Clusters


We present a new survey strategy to discover and study high-redshift Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) using the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). By targeting massive galaxy clusters at 0.9 < z < 1.5, we obtain a twofold improvement in the efficiency of finding SNe compared to an HST field survey and a factor of 3 improvement in the total yield of SN detections in relatively dust-free red-sequence galaxies. In total, sixteen SNe were discovered at z>0.95, nine of which were in galaxy clusters. This strategy provides an SN sample that can be used to decouple the effects of host-galaxy extinction and intrinsic color in high-redshift SNe, thereby reducing one of the largest systematic uncertainties in SN cosmology.

Additional Information

© 2009 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2009 April 6; accepted 2009 August 15; published 2009 September 22. We thank Julien Guy, Pierre Astier, and Josh Frieman for stimulating discussion of SN color and host type from their experience in the analyses of the large SNLS and SDSS-II SN data sets. We thank the Aspen Center for Physics for its summer 2007 hospitality during the preparation of this paper. Financial support for this work was provided by NASA through program GO-10496 from the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by AURA, Inc., under NASA contract NAS 5-26555. This work was also supported in part by the Director, Office of Science, Office of High Energy and Nuclear Physics, of the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract No. AC02-05CH11231, as well as a JSPS core-to-core program "International Research Network for Dark Energy" and by JSPS research grant 20040003. Support for M.B. was provided by the W. M. Keck Foundation. The work of S.A.S. was performed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in part under Contract W-7405-Eng-48 and in part under Contract DE-AC52-07NA27344. The work of P.E., J.R., and D.S. was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with NASA. Subaru observations were collected at Subaru Telescope, which is operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. Some of the data presented herein were obtained at the W.M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The authors recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that the summit of Mauna Kea has always had within the indigenous Hawaiian community. We are most fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct observations from this mountain. Some of spectroscopic data presented in this paper were taken at the Cerro Paranal Observatory as part of ESO programs 171.A-0486, 276.A-5034, 077.A-0110, and 078.A-0060.

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