Star/galaxy separation at faint magnitudes: application to a simulated Dark Energy Survey

M. T. Soumagnac, F. B. Abdalla, O. Lahav, D. Kirk, I. Sevilla, E. Bertin, B. T. P. Rowe, J. Annis, M. T. Busha, L. N. Da Costa, J. A. Frieman, E. Gaztanaga, M. Jarvis, H. Lin, W. J. Percival, B. X. Santiago, C. G. Sabiu, R. H. Wechsler, L. Wolz, B. Yanny

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We address the problem of separating stars from galaxies in future large photometric surveys. We focus our analysis on simulations of the Dark Energy Survey (DES). In the first part of the paper, we derive the science requirements on star/galaxy separation, for measurement of the cosmological parameters with the Gravitational Weak Lensing and Large Scale Structure probes. These requirements are dictated by the need to control both the statistical and systematic errors on the cosmological parameters, and by Point Spread Function calibration. We formulate the requirements in terms of the completeness and purity provided by a given star/galaxy classifier. In order to achieve these requirements at faint magnitudes, we propose a new method for star/galaxy separation in the second part of the paper. We first use Principal Component Analysis to outline the correlations between the objects parameters and extract from it the most relevant information. We then use the reduced set of parameters as input to an Artificial Neural Network. This multi-parameter approach improves upon purely morphometric classifiers (such as the classifier implemented in SExtractor), especially at faint magnitudes: it increases the purity by up to 20% for stars and by up to 12% for galaxies, at i-magnitude fainter than 23.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)666-680
Number of pages15
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Early online date21 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2015


  • astro-ph.CO
  • astro-ph.IM
  • gravitational lensing: weak
  • methods: data analysis
  • surveys
  • cosmology: observations
  • dark energy
  • large-scale structure of Universe
  • RCUK
  • STFC


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