A Spitzer survey for dust-obscured supernovae

September 2021 • 2021MNRAS.506.4199F

Authors • Fox, Ori D. • Khandrika, Harish • Rubin, David • Casper, Chadwick • Li, Gary Z. • Szalai, Tam├ís • Armus, Lee • Filippenko, Alexei V. • Skrutskie, Michael F. • Strolger, Lou • Van Dyk, Schuyler D.

Abstract • Supernova (SN) rates serve as an important probe of star formation models and initial mass functions. Near-infrared seeing-limited ground-based surveys typically discover a factor of 3-10 fewer SNe than predicted from far-infrared luminosities owing to sensitivity limitations arising from both a variable point-spread function (PSF) and high dust extinction in the nuclear regions of star-forming galaxies. This inconsistency has potential implications for our understanding of star-formation rates and massive-star evolution, particularly at higher redshifts, where star-forming galaxies are more common. To resolve this inconsistency, a successful SN survey in the local universe must be conducted at longer wavelengths and with a space-based telescope, which has a stable PSF to reduce the necessity for any subtraction algorithms and thus residuals. Here, we report on a 2-yr Spitzer/IRAC 3.6 $\mu$m survey for dust-extinguished SNe in the nuclear regions of forty luminous infrared galaxies (LIRGs) within 200 Mpc. The asymmetric Spitzer PSF results in worse than expected subtraction residuals when implementing standard template subtraction. Forward-modelling techniques improve our sensitivity by several ~1.5 mag. We report the detection of 9 SNe, five of which were not discovered by optical surveys. After adjusting our predicted rates to account for the sensitivity of our survey, we find that the number of detections is consistent with the models. While this search is none the less hampered by a difficult-to-model PSF and the relatively poor resolution of Spitzer, it will benefit from future missions, such as Roman and the James Webb Space Telescope, with higher resolution and more symmetric PSFs.


IPAC Authors

Schuyler Van Dyk

Senior Scientist