Finding Galaxies in the Shadows of Quasars with Gaussian Processes

author: Roman Garnett, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis
published: Dec. 5, 2015,   recorded: October 2015,   views: 1595

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We develop an automated technique for detecting damped Lyman-α absorbers (DLAs) along spectroscopic sightlines to quasi-stellar objects (QSOs or quasars). The detection of DLAs in large-scale spectroscopic surveys such as SDSS–III is critical to address outstanding cosmological questions, such as the nature of galaxy formation. We use nearly 50000 QSO spectra to learn a tailored Gaussian process model for quasar emission spectra, which we apply to the DLA detection problem via Bayesian model selection. We demonstrate our method’s effectiveness with a large-scale validation experiment on over 100000 spectra, with excellent performance.

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