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Our poster describes a new search for supernovae (SNe) in nearby galaxies in the near IR bands. This search is designed to measure SN rates more accurately than by optical searches, and to identify SNe near peak brightness within about 10 Mpc, close enough to study with the OSSE instrument aboard the GRO satellite. The search is conducted in the near IR bands in order to find those SNe which are being missed by optical searches due to dust obscuration.
The Berkeley Infra-Red Supernova Search consists of a monthly "patrol" of 166 northern high-latitude galaxies from the IRAS "Bright" sample (Soifer et al. 1987) within our SN detection range, about 25 Mpc. Approximately 45 of these galaxies are within the 10 Mpc range of OSSE. The nearby IRAS bright galaxies are believed to have dusty starburst regions, the expected environment for SNe. Because the extinction coefficient (in mag.) in K band is about one tenth of that in B band, we can search for SNe in these environments, even though they are often hidden from optical searches by extinction. We therefore predict a higher probability of SN detection per observation as well as a more accurate measurement of the overall SN rate compared to optical searches.
The search is currently being conducted at the Wyoming IR Observatory (WIRO) on Mt. Jelm, near Laramie, Wyoming, using HgCdTe IR array detectors.
We gratefully acknowledge financial support from NASA and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, and technical assistance from the staff and students of WIRO.
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