Core-collapse supernovae missed by optical surveys

S. Mattila*, T. Dahlen, A. Efstathiou, E. Kankare, J. Melinder, A. Alonso-Herrero, M. Á Pérez-Torres, S. Ryder, P. Väisänen, G. Östlin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

103 Citations (Scopus)


We estimate the fraction of core-collapse supernovae (CCSNe) that remain undetected by optical SN searches due to obscuration by large amounts of dust in their host galaxies. This effect is especially important in luminous and ultraluminous infrared galaxies, which are locally rare but dominate the star formation at redshifts of z ∼ 1-2. We perform a detailed investigation of the SN activity in the nearby luminous infrared galaxy Arp 299 and estimate that up to 83% of the SNe in Arp 299 and in similar galaxies in the local universe are missed by observations at optical wavelengths. For rest-frame optical surveys we find the fraction of SNe missed due to high dust extinction to increase from the average local value of ∼19% to ∼38% at z ∼ 1.2 and then remain roughly constant up to z ∼ 2. It is therefore crucial to take into account the effects of obscuration by dust when determining SN rates at high redshift and when predicting the number of CCSNe detectable by future high-z surveys such as LSST, JWST, and Euclid. For a sample of nearby CCSNe (distances 6-15Mpc) detected during the last 12yr, we find a lower limit for the local CCSN rate of 1.5+0.4 - 0.3 × 10-4 yr-1Mpc-3, consistent with that expected from the star formation rate. Even closer, at distances less than ∼6Mpc, we find a significant increase in the CCSN rate, indicating a local overdensity of star formation caused by a small number of galaxies that have each hosted multiple SNe.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111
Number of pages15
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • galaxies: individual (Arp 299)
  • galaxies: starburst
  • infrared: galaxies
  • supernovae: general
  • supernovae: individual (SN 2005at, SN 2010P)


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