The absolute magnitudes of type ia supernovae in the ultraviolet

Peter J. Brown, Peter W.A. Roming, Peter Milne, Filomena Bufano, Robin Ciardullo, Nancy Elias-Rosa, Alexei V. Filippenko, Ryan J. Foley, Neil Gehrels, Caryl Gronwall, Malcolm Hicken, Stephen T. Holland, Erik A. Hoversten, Stefan Immler, Robert P. Kirshner, Weidong Li, Paolo Mazzali, Mark M. Phillips, Tyler Pritchard, Martin StillMassimo Turatto, Daniel Vanden Berk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examine the absolute magnitudes and light-curve shapes of 14 nearby (redshift z = 0.004-0.027) Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) observed in the ultraviolet (UV) with the Swift Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope. Colors and absolutemagnitudes are calculated using both a standardMilkyWay extinction lawand one for the LargeMagellanic Cloud that has been modified by circumstellar scattering. We find very different behavior in the near-UV filters (uvw1rc covering ∼2600-3300 Å after removing optical light, and u ≈ 3000-4000 Å) compared to a mid-UV filter (uvm2 ≈ 2000-2400 Å). The uvw1rc - b colors show a scatter of ∼0.3 mag while uvm2-b scatters by nearly 0.9 mag. Similarly, while the scatter in colors between neighboring filters is small in the optical and somewhat larger in the near-UV, the large scatter in the uvm2 - uvw1 colors implies significantly larger spectral variability below 2600 Å. We find that in the near-UV the absolute magnitudes at peak brightness of normal SNe Ia in our sample are correlated with the optical decay rate with a scatter of 0.4 mag, comparable to that found for the optical in our sample. However, in the mid-UV the scatter is larger, ∼1 mag, possibly indicating differences in metallicity. We find no strong correlation between either the UV light-curve shapes or the UV colors and the UV absolute magnitudes. With larger samples, the UV luminosity might be useful as an additional constraint to help determine distance, extinction, and metallicity in order to improve the utility of SNe Ia as standardized candles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1608-1626
Number of pages19
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Distance scale
  • Dust, extinction
  • Galaxies: distances and redshifts
  • Supernovae: general
  • Ultraviolet: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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