Reducing ground-based astrometric errors with Gaia and Gaussian processes

DES Collaboration, W. F. Fortino*, D. Bacon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Stochastic field distortions caused by atmospheric turbulence are a fundamental limitation to the astrometric accuracy of ground-based imaging. This distortion field is measurable at the locations of stars with accurate positions provided by the Gaia DR2 catalog; we develop the use of Gaussian process regression (GPR) to interpolate the distortion field to arbitrary locations in each exposure. We introduce an extension to standard GPR techniques that exploits the knowledge that the 2D distortion field is curl-free. Applied to several hundred 90 s exposures from the Dark Energy Survey as a test bed, we find that the GPR correction reduces the variance of the turbulent astrometric distortions ≈12× , on average, with better performance in denser regions of the Gaia catalog. The rms per-coordinate distortion in the riz bands is typically ≈7 mas before any correction and ≈2 mas after application of the GPR model. The GPR astrometric corrections are validated by the observation that their use reduces, from 10 to 5 mas rms, the residuals to an orbit fit to riz-band observations over 5 yr of the r = 18.5 trans- Neptunian object Eris. We also propose a GPR method, not yet implemented, for simultaneously estimating the turbulence fields and the 5D stellar solutions in a stack of overlapping exposures, which should yield further turbulence reductions in future deep surveys.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106
Number of pages14
JournalAstronomical Journal
Volume162
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2021

Keywords

  • UKRI
  • STFC

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