Type II Plateau supernovae as metallicity probes of the Universe Academic Article uri icon


  • We explore a method for metallicity determinations based on quantitative spectroscopy of Type II-Plateau supernovae (SNe II-P). For consistency, we first evolve a set of 15 M main-sequence stars at 0.1, 0.4, 1, and 2 times the solar metallicity. At the onset of core collapse, we trigger a piston-driven explosion and model the resulting ejecta and radiation. Our theoretical models of such red supergiant star explosions at different metallicity show that synthetic spectra of SNe II-P possess optical signatures during the recombination phase that are sensitive to metallicity variations. This sensitivity can be quantified and the metallicity inferred from the strengths of metal-line absorptions. Furthermore, these signatures are not limited to O, but also include Na, Ca, Sc, Ti, or Fe. When compared to a sample of SNe II-P from the Carnegie SN Project and previous SN followup programmes, we find that most events lie at a metallicity between 0.4 and 2 times solar, with a marked scarcity of SN II-P events at small magellanic cloud metallicity. This most likely reflects the paucity of low-metallicity star-forming regions in the local Universe. SNe II-P have high-plateau luminosities that make them observable spectroscopically at large distances. Because they exhibit signatures of diverse metal species, in the future they may offer a means to constrain the evolution of the composition (e.g. the O/Fe ratio) in the Universe out to a redshift of 1 and beyond. 2014 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 0.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Dessart, L., Gutierrez, C. P., Hamuy, M., Hillier, D. J., Lanz, T., Anderson, J. P., ... Suntzeff, N. B.

citation count

  • 37

complete list of authors

  • Dessart, L||Gutierrez, CP||Hamuy, M||Hillier, DJ||Lanz, T||Anderson, JP||Folatelli, G||Freedman, WL||Ley, F||Morrell, N||Persson, SE||Phillips, MM||Stritzinger, M||Suntzeff, NB

publication date

  • March 2014