Big Universe, Big Data: Machine Learning and Image Analysis for Astronomy

Astrophysics and cosmology are rich with data. The advent of wide-area digital cameras on large aperture telescopes has led to ever more ambitious surveys of the sky. Data volumes of entire surveys a decade ago can now be acquired in a single night and real-time analysis is often desired. Thus, modern astronomy requires big data know-how, in particular it demands highly efficient machine learning and image analysis algorithms. But scalability is not the only challenge: Astronomy applications touch several current machine learning research questions, such as learning from biased data and dealing with label and measurement noise. We argue that this makes astronomy a great domain for computer science research, as it pushes the boundaries of data analysis. In the following, we will present this exciting application area for data scientists. We will focus on exemplary results, discuss main challenges, and highlight some recent methodological advancements in machine learning and image analysis triggered by astronomical applications.

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