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Studying the Ultraviolet Spectrum of the First Spectroscopically Confirmed Supernova at Redshift Two

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Dark Energy Survey Collaboration
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>8/02/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>The Astrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)37
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


We present observations of DES16C2nm, the first spectroscopically confirmed hydrogen-free superluminous supernova (SLSN-I) at redshift z≈ 2. DES16C2nm was discovered by the Dark Energy Survey (DES) Supernova Program, with follow-up photometric data from the Hubble Space Telescope, Gemini, and the European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope supplementing the DES data. Spectroscopic observations confirm DES16C2nm to be at z = 1.998, and spectroscopically similar to Gaia16apd (a SLSN-I at z = 0.102), with a peak absolute magnitude of U=-22.26+/- 0.06. The high redshift of DES16C2nm provides a unique opportunity to study the ultraviolet (UV) properties of SLSNe-I. Combining DES16C2nm with 10 similar events from the literature, we show that there exists a homogeneous class of SLSNe-I in the UV ({λ }{rest}≈ 2500 Å), with peak luminosities in the (rest-frame) U band, and increasing absorption to shorter wavelengths. There is no evidence that the mean photometric and spectroscopic properties of SLSNe-I differ between low (z< 1) and high redshift (z> 1), but there is clear evidence of diversity in the spectrum at {λ }{rest}< 2000 \mathringA , possibly caused by the variations in temperature between events. No significant correlations are observed between spectral line velocities and photometric luminosity. Using these data, we estimate that SLSNe-I can be discovered to z = 3.8 by DES. While SLSNe-I are typically identified from their blue observed colors at low redshift (z< 1), we highlight that at z> 2 these events appear optically red, peaking in the observer-frame z-band. Such characteristics are critical to identify these objects with future facilities such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, Euclid, and the Wide-field Infrared Survey Telescope, which should detect such SLSNe-I to z = 3.5, 3.7, and 6.6, respectively.