Classifying stars, galaxies, and AGNs in CLAUDS + HSC-SSP using gradient boosted decision trees

Anneya Golob, Marcin Sawicki, Andy D. Goulding, Jean Coupon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Classifying catalogue objects as stars, galaxies, or active galactic nuclei (AGNs) is a crucial part of any statistical study of galaxies. We describe our pipeline for binary (star/galaxy) and multiclass (star/galaxy/Type I AGN/Type II AGN) classification developed for the very deep CLAUDS + HSC-SSP ugrizy data set. Our method uses the XGBoost implementation of gradient boosted trees (GBTs) to train ensembles of models that take photometry, colours, maximum surface brightnesses, and effective radii from all available bands as input, and output the probability that an object belongs to each of the classes under consideration. At iAB < 25 our binary star/galaxy model has AUC = 0.9974 and at the threshold that maximizes our sample's weighted F1 score, selects a sample of galaxies with 99.7 per cent purity and 99.8 per cent completeness. We test the model's ability to generalize to objects fainter than those seen during training and find that extrapolation of ∼1−2 mag is reasonable for most applications provided that the galaxies in the training sample are representative of the range of redshifts and colours of the galaxies in the target sample. We also perform an exploratory analysis of the method's ability to identify AGNs using a small X-ray-selected sample and find that it holds promise for classifying Type I AGN, although it performs less well for Type II AGN. Our results demonstrate that GBTs provide a flexible, robust, and efficient method for performing classification of catalogue objects in large astronomical imaging surveys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4136-4146
Number of pages11
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Methods: data analysis
  • Methods: statistical
  • Techniques: photometric


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