The cosmic transparency measured with Type Ia supernovae: Implications for intergalactic dust

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Observations of high-redshift Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) are used to study the cosmic transparency at optical wavelengths. Assuming a flat Λ cold dark matter (ΛCDM) cosmological model based on baryon acoustic oscillations and cosmic microwave background measurements, redshift dependent deviations of SN Ia distances are used to constrain mechanisms that would dim light. The analysis is based on the most recent Pantheon SN compilation, for which there is a 0.03 ± 0.01 (stat) mag discrepancy in the distant supernova distance moduli relative to the ΛCDM model anchored by supernovae at z < 0.05. While there are known systematic uncertainties that combined could explain the observed offset, here we entertain the possibility that the discrepancy may instead be explained by scattering of supernova light in the intergalactic medium (IGM). We focus on two effects: Compton scattering by free electrons and extinction by dust in the IGM. We find that if the discrepancy is entirely due to dimming by dust, the measurements can be modelled with a cosmic dust density ΩdustIGM = 8 × 10−5(1 + z)−1, corresponding to an average attenuation of 2 × 10−5 mag Mpc−1 in V band. Forthcoming SN Ia studies may provide a definitive measurement of the IGM dust properties, while still providing an unbiased estimate of cosmological parameters by introducing additional parameters in the global fits to the observations.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Goobar, A; Dhawan, S; Scolnic, D

Published Date

  • June 1, 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 477 / 1

Start / End Page

  • L75 - L79

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1745-3933

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1745-3925

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/mnrasl/sly053

Citation Source

  • Scopus