Near-infrared observations of type ia supernovae: The best known standard candle for cosmology

R. L. Barone-Nugent*, C. Lidman, J. S.B. Wyithe, J. Mould, D. A. Howell, I. M. Hook, M. Sullivan, P. E. Nugent, I. Arcavi, S. B. Cenko, J. Cooke, A. Gal-Yam, E. Y. Hsiao, M. M. Kasliwal, K. Maguire, E. Ofek, D. Poznanski, D. Xu

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    62 Citations (Scopus)


    We present an analysis of the Hubble diagram for 12 normal Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) observed in the near-infrared (NIR) J and H bands. We select SNe exclusively from the redshift range 0.03 < z < 0.09 to reduce uncertainties coming from peculiar velocities while remaining in a cosmologically well-understood region. All of the SNe in our sample exhibit no spectral or B-band light-curve peculiarities and lie in the B-band stretch range of 0.8-1.15. Our results suggest that SNe Ia observed in the NIR are the best known standard candles. We fit previously determined NIR light-curve templates to new high-precision data to derive peak magnitudes and to determine the scatter about the Hubble line. Photometry of the 12 SNe is presented in the natural system. Using a standard cosmology of (H0, Ωm, ΩΛ) = (70, 0.27, 0.73), we find a median J-band absolute magnitude of MJ = -18.39 with a scatter of σJ = 0.116 and a median H-band absolute magnitude of MH = -18.36 with a scatter of σH = 0.085. The scatter in the H band is the smallest yet measured. We search for correlations between residuals in the J- and H-band Hubble diagrams and SN properties, such as SN colour, B-band stretch and the projected distance from the centre of the host galaxy. The only significant correlation is between the J-band Hubble residual and the J - H pseudo-colour. We also examine how the scatter changes when fewer points in the NIR are used to constrain the light curve. With a single point in the H band taken anywhere from 10d before to 15d after B-band maximum light and a prior on the date of H-band maximum set from the date of B-band maximum, we find that we can measure distances to an accuracy of 6 per cent. The precision of SNe Ia in the NIR provides new opportunities for precision measurements of both the expansion history of the universe and peculiar velocities of nearby galaxies.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1007-1012
    Number of pages6
    JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Sept 2012


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