Powerful new AI technique detects and classifies galaxies in astronomy image data

Matthew N. Henry

UCSC scientists produced a deep-understanding framework identified as Morpheus to execute pixel-stage morphological classifications of objects in astronomical photos

Scientists at UC Santa Cruz have produced a highly effective new laptop or computer software called Morpheus that can assess astronomical picture information pixel by pixel to detect and classify all of the galaxies and stars in huge information sets from astronomy surveys.

A Hubble Space Telescope picture of a region in the Hubble Legacy Fields contains a huge disk galaxy (above). The picture underneath displays the Morpheus morphological classification results for the similar region. Impression credits: NASA/STScI and Ryan Hausen

Morpheus is a deep-understanding framework that incorporates a range of artificial intelligence technologies produced for apps these as picture and speech recognition. Brant Robertson, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics who qualified prospects the Computational Astrophysics Investigation Group at UC Santa Cruz, explained the swiftly increasing measurement of astronomy information sets has designed it crucial to automate some of the jobs typically performed by astronomers.

“There are some issues we merely can’t do as human beings, so we have to discover methods to use computer systems to offer with the massive quantity of information that will be coming in around the following couple of yrs from huge astronomical study initiatives,” he explained.

Robertson worked with Ryan Hausen, a laptop or computer science graduate student in UCSC’s Baskin School of Engineering, who produced and tested Morpheus around the previous two yrs. With the publication of their results in the Astrophysical Journal Nutritional supplement Collection, Hausen and Robertson are also releasing the Morpheus code publicly and supplying on the net demonstrations.

The morphologies of galaxies, from rotating disk galaxies like our possess Milky Way to amorphous elliptical and spheroidal galaxies, can explain to astronomers about how galaxies sort and evolve around time. Huge-scale surveys, these as the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) to be carried out at the Vera Rubin Observatory now beneath design in Chile, will crank out massive quantities of picture information, and Robertson has been included in arranging how to use that information to realize the development and evolution of galaxies. LSST will get extra than 800 panoramic photos each night time with a 3.2-billion-pixel digital camera, recording the whole noticeable sky 2 times each 7 days.

Impression credit: UC Santa Cruz

“Imagine if you went to astronomers and questioned them to classify billions of objects—how could they potentially do that? Now we’ll be able to instantly classify individuals objects and use that info to discover about galaxy evolution,” Robertson explained.

Other astronomers have applied deep-understanding technology to classify galaxies, but preceding attempts have typically included adapting present picture recognition algorithms, and scientists have fed the algorithms curated photos of galaxies to be categorised. Hausen built Morpheus from the floor up specifically for astronomical picture information, and the product employs as input the primary picture information in the standard electronic file structure applied by astronomers.

Pixel-stage classification is one more significant advantage of Morpheus, Robertson explained. “With other styles, you have to know something is there and feed the product an picture, and it classifies the whole galaxy at as soon as,” he explained. “Morpheus discovers the galaxies for you, and does it pixel by pixel, so it can manage incredibly intricate photos, wherever you may have a spheroidal proper following to a disk. For a disk with a central bulge, it classifies the bulge individually. So it’s incredibly highly effective.”

To train the deep-understanding algorithm, the scientists applied info from a 2015 examine in which dozens of astronomers categorised about ten,000 galaxies in Hubble Space Telescope photos from the CANDELS study. They then applied Morpheus to picture information from the Hubble Legacy Fields, which combines observations taken by a number of Hubble deep-subject surveys.

When Morpheus processes an picture of an location of the sky, it generates a new established of photos of that aspect of the sky in which all objects are coloration-coded dependent on their morphology, separating astronomical objects from the qualifications and identifying point resources (stars) and unique types of galaxies. The output contains a self confidence stage for each classification. Functioning on UCSC’s lux supercomputer, the software swiftly generates a pixel-by-pixel assessment for the whole information established.

Morpheus provides detection and morphological classification of astronomical objects at a stage of granularity that doesn’t at this time exist,” Hausen explained.

Supply: UC Santa Cruz

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