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For Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) observed through a nonuniform interstellar medium (ISM) in its host galaxy, we investigate whether the nonuniformity can cause observable time variations in dust extinction and in gas absorption due to the expansion of the SN photosphere with time. We show that, owing to the steep spectral index of the ISM density power spectrum, sizable density fluctuation amplitudes at the length scale of typical ISM structures () will translate to much smaller fluctuations on the scales of an SN photosphere. Therefore, the typical amplitude of time variation due to a nonuniform ISM, of absorption equivalent widths, and of extinction, would be small. As a result, we conclude that nonuniform ISM density should not impact cosmology measurements based on SNe Ia. We apply our predictions based on the ISM density power-law power spectrum to the observations of two highly reddened SNe Ia, SN 2012cu and SN 2014J.


Originally published in The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 850, Number 1