The delay time distribution of Type-Ia supernovae in galaxy clusters: The impact of extended star-formation histories

Jonathan Freundlich, Dan Maoz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The delay time distribution (DTD) of Type-Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) is important for understanding chemical evolution, SN Ia progenitors, and SN Ia physics. Past estimates of the DTD in galaxy clusters have been deduced from SN Ia rates measured in cluster samples observed at various redshifts, corresponding to different time intervals after a presumed initial brief burst of star formation. A recent analysis of a cluster sample at z = 1.13-1.75 confirmed indications from previous studies of lower redshift clusters, that the DTD has a power-law form, DTD(t) = R1(t/Gyr)α, with amplitude R1, at delay $t=1\,\rm Gyr$, several times higher than measured in field-galaxy environments. This implied that SNe Ia are somehow produced in larger numbers by the stellar populations in clusters. This conclusion, however, could have been affected by the implicit assumption that the stars were formed in a single brief starburst at high z. Here, we re-derive the DTD from the cluster SN Ia data, but relax the single-burst assumption. Instead, we allow for a range of star-formation histories and dust extinctions for each cluster. Via MCMC modelling, we simultaneously fit, using stellar population synthesis models and DTD models, the integrated galaxy-light photometry in several bands, and the SN Ia numbers discovered in each cluster. With these more-realistic assumptions, we find a best-fitting DTD with power-law index $\alpha =-1.09_{-0.12}^{+0.15}$, and amplitude $R_1=0.41_{-0.10}^{+0.12}\times 10^{-12}\,{\rm yr}^{-1}\, {\rm M}_\odot ^{-1}$. We confirm a cluster-environment DTD with a larger amplitude than the field-galaxy DTD, by a factor ∼2-3 (at 3.8σ). Cluster and field DTDs have consistent slopes of α ≈ -1.1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5882-5895
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2021


  • galaxies: clusters: general
  • galaxies: star formation
  • methods: statistical
  • stars: evolution
  • transients: supernovae


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