Detecting optical transients using artificial neural networks and reference images from different surveys


We present a technique to detect optical transients based on an artificial neural networks method. We describe the architecture of two networks capable of comparing images of the same part of the sky taken by different telescopes. One image corresponds to the epoch in which a potential transient could exist; the other is a reference image of an earlier epoch. We use data obtained by the Dr. Cristina V. Torres Memorial Astronomical Observatory and archival reference images from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. We trained a convolutional neural network and a dense layer network on simulated source samples and then tested the trained networks on samples created from real image data. Autonomous detection methods replace the standard process of detecting transients, which is normally achieved by source extraction of a difference image followed by human inspection of the detected candidates. Replacing the human inspection component with an entirely autonomous method would allow for a rapid and automatic follow-up of interesting targets of opportunity. The toy-model pipeline that we present here is not yet able to replace human inspection, but it might provide useful hints to identify potential candidates. The method will be further expanded and tested on telescopes participating in the Transient Optical Robotic Observatory of the South Collaboration.


This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society ©: 2021 The Authors, Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


Gravitational Waves, Data Analysis, Image Processing, Telescopes


Katarzyna Wardęga, Adam Zadrożny, Martin Beroiz, Richard Camuccio, Mario C Díaz, Detecting optical transients using artificial neural networks and reference images from different surveys, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 507, Issue 2, October 2021, Pages 1836–1846,