Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 28 (NIPS 2015)
Andrew Miller, Albert Wu, Jeff Regier, Jon McAuliffe, Dustin Lang, Mr. Prabhat, David Schlegel, Ryan P. Adams
We propose a method for combining two sources of astronomical data, spectroscopy and photometry, that carry information about sources of light (e.g., stars, galaxies, and quasars) at extremely different spectral resolutions. Our model treats the spectral energy distribution (SED) of the radiation from a source as a latent variable that jointly explains both photometric and spectroscopic observations. We place a flexible, nonparametric prior over the SED of a light source that admits a physically interpretable decomposition, and allows us to tractably perform inference. We use our model to predict the distribution of the redshift of a quasar from five-band (low spectral resolution) photometric data, the so called ``photo-z'' problem. Our method shows that tools from machine learning and Bayesian statistics allow us to leverage multiple resolutions of information to make accurate predictions with well-characterized uncertainties.