Automated transient identification in the Dark Energy Survey

D. A. Goldstein, C. B. D'Andrea, J. A. Fischer, R. J. Foley, R. R. Gupta, R. Kessler, A. G. Kim, R. C. Nichol, P. Nugent, A. Papadopoulos, M. Sako, M. Smith, M. Sullivan, R. C. Thomas, W. Wester, R. C. Wolf, F. B. Abdalla, M. Banerji, A. Benoit-Lévy, E. BertinD. Brooks, A. Carnero Rosell, F. J. Castander, L. N. da Costa, R. Covarrubias, D. L. DePoy, S. Desai, H. T. Diehl, P. Doel, T. F. Eifler, A. Fausti Neto, D. A. Finley, B. Flaugher, P. Fosalba, J. Frieman, D. Gerdes, D. Gruen, R. A. Gruendl, D. James, K. Kuehn, N. Kuropatkin, O. Lahav, T. S. Li, M. A. G. Maia, M. Makler, M. March, J. L. Marshall, P. Martini, K. W. Merritt, R. Miquel, B. Nord, R. Ogando, A. A. Plazas, A. K. Romer, A. Roodman, E. Sanchez, V. Scarpine, M. Schubnell, I. Sevilla-Noarbe, R. C. Smith, M. Soares-Santos, F. Sobreira, E. Suchyta, M. E. C. Swanson, G. Tarle, J. Thaler, A. R. Walker

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Abstract

We describe an algorithm for identifying point-source transients and moving objects on reference-subtracted optical images containing artifacts of processing and instrumentation. The algorithm makes use of the supervised machine learning technique known as Random Forest. We present results from its use in the Dark Energy Survey Supernova program (DES-SN), where it was trained using a sample of 898,963 signal and background events generated by the transient detection pipeline. After reprocessing the data collected during the first DES-SN observing season (Sep. 2013 through Feb. 2014) using the algorithm, the number of transient candidates eligible for human scanning decreased by a factor of 13.4, while only 1 percent of the artificial Type Ia supernovae (SNe) injected into search images to monitor survey efficiency were lost, most of which were very faint events. Here we characterize the algorithm's performance in detail, and we discuss how it can inform pipeline design decisions for future time-domain imaging surveys, such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the Zwicky Transient Facility.
Original languageEnglish
Article number82
JournalThe Astronomical Journal
Volume150
Issue number3
Early online date20 Aug 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015

Keywords

  • astro-ph.IM
  • supernovae: general
  • methods: statistical
  • methods: data analysis
  • RCUK
  • STFC

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