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Astronomers Teach Machine to 'See' Galaxies in Space

The machine can distinguish between galaxies on its own.

Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire say they have taught a machine to identify astronomical images.

Credit: University of Hertfordshire

University of Hertfordshire researchers say they have taught a machine to "see" astronomical images, including the ability to distinguish between galaxies. Astronomers and computer scientists used unsupervised machine learning, which enabled galaxies to be classified in real time at high speed, and has previously been done only in projects involving thousands of human volunteers.

The researchers demonstrated their algorithm using data from the Hubble Space Telescope Frontier Fields. The algorithm does not tell the machine what to look for in images, but instead how to see, notes Hertfordshire master's student Alex Hocking, who led the work.

"Our aim is to deploy this tool on the next generation of giant imaging surveys where no human, or even group of humans, could closely inspect every piece of data," says James Geach, Hocking's supervisor.

The researchers note the technology could be used in other areas, such as in medicine to spot tumors, or in security to scan for suspicious items.

From Engineering and Technology Magazine
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