Cleaning sky survey databases using Hough transform and renewal string approaches

AJ Storkey*, NC Hambly, CKI Williams, RG Mann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Large astronomical data bases obtained from sky surveys such as the SuperCOSMOS Sky Survey (SSS) invariably suffer from spurious records coming from the artefactual effects of the telescope, satellites and junk objects in orbit around the Earth and physical defects on the photographic plate or CCD. Though relatively small in number, these spurious records present a significant problem in many situations, where they can become a large proportion of the records potentially of interest to a given astronomer. Accurate and robust techniques are needed for locating and flagging such spurious objects, and we are undertaking a programme investigating the use of machine learning techniques in this context. In this paper we focus on the four most common causes of unwanted records in the SSS: satellite or aeroplane tracks, scratches, fibres and other linear phenomena introduced to the plate, circular haloes around bright stars due to internal reflections within the telescope and diffraction spikes near to bright stars. Appropriate techniques are developed for the detection of each of these. The methods are applied to the SSS data to develop a data set of spurious object detections, along with confidence measures, which can allow these unwanted data to be removed from consideration. These methods are general and can be adapted to other astronomical survey data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-51
Number of pages16
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • methods : data analysis
  • methods : statistical
  • astronomical data bases : miscellaneous
  • catalogues
  • surveys


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