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2022A&A...659A..66K - Astronomy and Astrophysics, volume 659A, 66-66 (2022/3-1)

Exploring X-ray variability with unsupervised machine learning. I. Self-organizing maps applied to XMM-Newton data.

KOVACEVIC M., PASQUATO M., MARELLI M., DE LUCA A., SALVATERRA R. and BELFIORE A.

Abstract (from CDS):

Context. XMM-Newton provides unprecedented insight into the X-ray Universe, recording variability information for hundreds of thousands of sources. Manually searching for interesting patterns in light curves is impractical, requiring an automated data-mining approach for the characterization of sources. Aims. Straightforward fitting of temporal models to light curves is not a sure way to identify them, especially with noisy data. We used unsupervised machine learning to distill a large data set of light-curve parameters, revealing its clustering structure in preparation for anomaly detection and subsequent searches for specific source behaviors (e.g., flares, eclipses). Methods. Self-organizing maps (SOMs) achieve dimensionality reduction and clustering within a single framework. They are a type of artificial neural network trained to approximate the data with a two-dimensional grid of discrete interconnected units, which can later be visualized on the plane. We trained our SOM on temporal-only parameters computed from 105 detections from the Exploring the X-ray Transient and variable Sky catalog. Results. The resulting map reveals that the ≃2500 most variable sources are clustered based on temporal characteristics. We find distinctive regions of the SOM map associated with flares, eclipses, dips, linear light curves, and others. Each group contains sources that appear similar by eye. We single out a handful of interesting sources for further study. Conclusions. The condensed view of our dataset provided by SOMs allowed us to identify groups of similar sources, speeding up manual characterization by orders of magnitude. Our method also highlights problems with fitting simple temporal models to light curves and can be used to mitigate them to an extent. This will be crucial for fully exploiting the high data volume expected from upcoming X-ray surveys, and may also help with interpreting supervised classification models.

Abstract Copyright: © ESO 2022

Journal keyword(s): methods: statistical - methods: miscellaneous - catalogs - astronomical databases: miscellaneous - X-rays: general - methods: data analysis

Status at CDS : Objects in title, abstract, text, figures, and all or part of small table(s) being processed in SIMBAD.

Simbad objects: 20

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2023.01.28-18:29:28

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