Automated Classification of Periodic Variable Stars Detected by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer

July 2014 • 2014AJ....148...21M

Authors • Masci, Frank J. • Hoffman, Douglas I. • Grillmair, Carl J. • Cutri, Roc M.

Abstract • We describe a methodology to classify periodic variable stars identified using photometric time-series measurements constructed from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) full-mission single-exposure Source Databases. This will assist in the future construction of a WISE Variable Source Database that assigns variables to specific science classes as constrained by the WISE observing cadence with statistically meaningful classification probabilities. We have analyzed the WISE light curves of 8273 variable stars identified in previous optical variability surveys (MACHO, GCVS, and ASAS) and show that Fourier decomposition techniques can be extended into the mid-IR to assist with their classification. Combined with other periodic light-curve features, this sample is then used to train a machine-learned classifier based on the random forest (RF) method. Consistent with previous classification studies of variable stars in general, the RF machine-learned classifier is superior to other methods in terms of accuracy, robustness against outliers, and relative immunity to features that carry little or redundant class information. For the three most common classes identified by WISE: Algols, RR Lyrae, and W Ursae Majoris type variables, we obtain classification efficiencies of 80.7%, 82.7%, and 84.5% respectively using cross-validation analyses, with 95% confidence intervals of approximately ±2%. These accuracies are achieved at purity (or reliability) levels of 88.5%, 96.2%, and 87.8% respectively, similar to that achieved in previous automated classification studies of periodic variable stars.


IPAC Authors

Roc Cutri

IPAC Deputy Director


Carl Grillmair

Associate Scientist