This may have a simple answer but I can't find it.

I've come across this term in a paper I was reading, (Walmswell and Elridge, 2011) which mentions 'non-detection' of Supernovae, and while I can wrap my head around detection, I was lost at 'non'.

I tried finding a definition but to no avail. Would anyone be able to give one?

  • $\begingroup$ Did you check the reference (it's free to view). It discusses the masses of stars likely to cause a SN. It looks at those stars which have been seen to end in an SN and also makes an estimate for those stars which have ended in SNs but have not been observed - hence non-detected. They are saying that we cannot assume that all the supernovae remnants we see are absolutely typical, hence we have to make allowance for those we haven't seen. $\endgroup$ Oct 15, 2016 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ @adrianmcmenamin should be an answer. $\endgroup$
    – ProfRob
    Oct 15, 2016 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ Only from a very cursory scan of the referred paper. So someone with a fuller grasp of the issues might be better giving a fuller answer. $\endgroup$ Oct 15, 2016 at 19:39
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I am doing a summary of this paper at the moment. So a non-detection would be looking at a supernova that's already occurred and estimating what the mass of the progenitor was? $\endgroup$
    – Gurfuffle
    Oct 16, 2016 at 10:17

1 Answer 1


From a quick skim of the paper, it appears they using data from a previous paper by Smartt et al. (2009). That paper compiled a sample of observed supernovae (SNe) for which there are good images of the parent galaxies taken before the actual SNe. In some cases, Smartt et al. found plausible progenitor stars for the SNe; those are the "detections". Cases where they couldn't find a plausible progenitor on pre-SN images are the "non-detections".

(The authors of the paper you are talking about appear to be suggesting that Smartt et al. underestimated the masses of progenitor stars because they failed to account for extra local dust extinction from the more massive red supergiant stars.)

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, that makes sense. Yes that's what I gathered they were sugggesting too $\endgroup$
    – Gurfuffle
    Oct 17, 2016 at 18:47

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