Photometric classification of type Ia supernovae in the SuperNova Legacy Survey with supervised learning [IMA]

In the era of large astronomical surveys, photometric classification of supernovae (SNe) has become an important research field due to limited spectroscopic resources for candidate follow-up and classification. In this work, we present a method to photometrically classify type Ia supernovae based on machine learning with redshifts that are derived from the SN light-curves. This method is implemented on real data from the SNLS deferred pipeline, a purely photometric pipeline that identifies SNe Ia at high-redshifts ($0.2<z<1.1$).
Our method consists of two stages: feature extraction (obtaining the SN redshift from photometry and estimating light-curve shape parameters) and machine learning classification. We study the performance of different algorithms such as Random Forest and Boosted Decision Trees. We evaluate the performance using SN simulations and real data from the first 3 years of the Supernova Legacy Survey (SNLS), which contains large spectroscopically and photometrically classified type Ia samples. Using the Area Under the Curve (AUC) metric, where perfect classification is given by 1, we find that our best-performing classifier (Extreme Gradient Boosting Decision Tree) has an AUC of $0.98$.
We show that it is possible to obtain a large photometrically selected type Ia SN sample with an estimated contamination of less than $5\%$. When applied to data from the first three years of SNLS, we obtain 529 events. We investigate the differences between classifying simulated SNe, and real SN survey data. In particular, we find that applying a thorough set of selection cuts to the SN sample is essential for good classification. This work demonstrates for the first time the feasibility of machine learning classification in a high-$z$ SN survey with application to real SN data.

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A. Moller, V. Ruhlmann-Kleider, C. Leloup, et. al.
Mon, 22 Aug 2016

Comments: 27 pages, submitted to JCAP