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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A strategy for finding gravitationally lensed distant supernovae

  • Author(s): Sullivan, M
  • Ellis, R
  • Nugent, P
  • Smail, I
  • Madau, P
  • et al.

Distant Type Ia and II supernovae (SNe) can serve as valuable probes of the history of the cosmic expansion and star formation, and provide important information on their progenitor models. At present, however, there are few observational constraints on the abundance of SNe at high redshifts. A major science driver for the Next Generation Space Telescope is the study of such very distant SNe. In this paper we discuss strategies for finding and counting distant SNe by using repeat imaging of supercritical intermediate redshift clusters whose mass distributions are well constrained via modelling of strongly lensed features. For a variety of different models for the star formation history and supernova progenitors, we estimate the likelihood of detecting lensed SNe as a function of their redshift. In the case of a survey conducted with Hubble Space Telescope (HST), we predict a high probability of seeing a supernova in a single return visit with either Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 or Advanced Camera for Surveys, and a much higher probability of detecting examples with z > 1 in the lensed case. Most events would represent magnified SNe II at z ≃ 1, and a fraction will be more distant examples. We discuss various ways to classify such events using ground-based infrared photometry. We demonstrate an application of the method using the HST archival data and discuss the case of a possible event found in the rich cluster AC 114 (z = 0.31).

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