The Distance to SN 1999em from the Expanding Photosphere Method Academic Article uri icon


  • We present optical and IR spectroscopy of the first two months of evolution of the Type II SN 1999em. We combine these data with high-quality optical/IR photometry beginning only three days after shock breakout, in order to study the performance of the ``Expanding Photosphere Method'' (EPM) in the determination of distances. With this purpose we develop a technique to measure accurate photospheric velocities by cross-correlating observed and model spectra. The application of this technique to SN 1999em shows that we can reach an average uncertainty of 11% in velocity from an individual spectrum. Our analysis shows that EPM is quite robust to the effects of dust. In particular, the distances derived from the VI filters change by only 7% when the adopted visual extinction in the host galaxy is varied by 0.45 mag. The superb time sampling of the BVIZJHK light-curves of SN 1999em permits us to study the internal consistency of EPM and test the dilution factors computed from atmosphere models for Type II plateau supernovae. We find that, in the first week since explosion, the EPM distances are up to 50% lower than the average, possibly due the presence of circumstellar material. Over the following 65 days, on the other hand, our tests lend strong credence to the atmosphere models, and confirm previous claims that EPM can produce consistent distances without having to craft specific models to each supernova. This is particularly true for the VI filters which yield distances with an internal consistency of 4%. From the whole set of BVIZJHK photometry, we obtain an average distance of 7.5+/-0.5 Mpc, where the quoted uncertainty (7%) is a conservative estimate of the internal precision of the method obtained from the analysis of the first 70 days of the supernova evolution.

author list (cited authors)

  • Hamuy, M., Pinto, P. A., Maza, J., Suntzeff, N. B., Phillips, M. M., Eastman, R. G., ... Schommer, R. A

complete list of authors

  • Hamuy, Mario||Pinto, Philip A||Maza, Jose||Suntzeff, Nicholas B||Phillips, MM||Eastman, Ronald G||Smith, RC||Corbally, CJ||Burstein, D||Li, Yong||Ivanov, Valentin||Moro‚ÄźMartin, Amaya||Strolger, LG||de Souza, RE||dos Anjos, S||Green, Elizabeth M||Pickering, TE||Gonzalez, Luis||Antezana, Roberto||Wischnjewsky, Marina||Galaz, G||Roth, M||Persson, SE||Schommer, RA

publication date

  • January 1, 2001 11:11 AM