The effect of weak lensing on distance estimates from supernovae

Mathew Smith, David J. Bacon, Robert C. Nichol, Heather Campbell, Chris Clarkson, Roy Maartens, Chris B. D'Andrea, Bruce A. Bassett, David Cinabro, David A. Finley, Joshua A. Frieman, Lluis Galbany, Peter M. Garnavich, Matthew D. Olmstead, Donald P. Schneider, Charles Shapiro, Jesper Sollerman

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Using a sample of 608 Type Ia supernovae from the SDSS-II and BOSS surveys, combined with a sample of foreground galaxies from SDSS-II, we estimate the weak lensing convergence for each supernova line of sight. We find that the correlation between this measurement and the Hubble residuals is consistent with the prediction from lensing (at a significance of 1.7σ). Strong correlations are also found between the residuals and supernova nuisance parameters after a linear correction is applied. When these other correlations are taken into account, the lensing signal is detected at 1.4σ. We show, for the first time, that distance estimates from supernovae can be improved when lensing is incorporated, by including a new parameter in the SALT2 methodology for determining distance moduli. The recovered value of the new parameter is consistent with the lensing prediction. Using cosmic microwave background data from WMAP7, H 0 data from Hubble Space Telescope and Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) Baryon acoustic oscillations measurements, we find the best-fit value of the new lensing parameter and show that the central values and uncertainties on Ω m and w are unaffected. The lensing of supernovae, while only seen at marginal significance in this low-redshift sample, will be of vital importance for the next generation of surveys, such as DES and LSST, which will be systematics-dominated.
Original languageEnglish
Article number24
Pages (from-to)24
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Early online date10 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • cosmology: observations
  • distance scale
  • supernovae: general
  • surveys


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