Convolutional neural networks for transient candidate vetting in large-scale surveys

Fabian Gieseke, Steven Bloemen, Cas van den Bogaard, Tom Heskes, Jonas Kindler, Richard A. Scalzo, Valério A.R.M. Ribeiro, Jan van Roestel, Paul J. Groot, Fang Yuan, Anais Möller, Brad E. Tucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Current synoptic sky surveys monitor large areas of the sky to find variable and transient astronomical sources. As the number of detections per night at a single telescope easily exceeds several thousand, current detection pipelines make intensive use of machine learning algorithms to classify the detected objects and to filter out the most interesting candidates. A number of upcoming surveys will produce up to three orders of magnitude more data, which renders high-precision classification systems essential to reduce the manual and, hence, expensive vetting by human experts.We present an approach based on convolutional neural networks to discriminate between true astrophysical sources and artefacts in reference-subtracted optical images. We show that relatively simple networks are already competitive with state-of-theart systems and that their quality can further be improved via slightly deeper networks and additional pre-processing steps - eventually yielding models outperforming state-of-the-art systems. In particular, our best model correctly classifies about 97.3 per cent of all 'real' and 99.7 per cent of all 'bogus' instances on a test set containing 1942 'bogus' and 227 'real' instances in total. Furthermore, the networks considered in this work can also successfully classify these objects at hand without relying on difference images, which might pave the way for future detection pipelines not containing image subtraction steps at all.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3101-3114
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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