Deep learning of multi-element abundances from high-resolution spectroscopic data

13 Aug 2018  ·  Henry W. Leung, Jo Bovy ·

Deep learning with artificial neural networks is increasingly gaining attention, because of its potential for data-driven astronomy. However, this methodology usually does not provide uncertainties and does not deal with incompleteness and noise in the training data. In this work, we design a neural network for high-resolution spectroscopic analysis using APOGEE data that mimics the methodology of standard spectroscopic analyses: stellar parameters are determined using the full wavelength range, but individual element abundances use censored portions of the spectrum. We train this network with a customized objective function that deals with incomplete and noisy training data and apply dropout variational inference to derive uncertainties on our predictions. We determine parameters and abundances for 18 individual elements at the $\approx 0.03$ dex level, even at low signal-to-noise ratio. We demonstrate that the uncertainties returned by our method are a realistic estimate of the precision and they automatically blow up when inputs or outputs outside of the training set are encountered, thus shielding users from unwanted extrapolation. By using standard deep-learning tools for GPU acceleration, our method is extremely fast, allowing analysis of the entire APOGEE data set of $\approx250,000$ spectra in ten minutes on a singe, low-cost GPU. We release the stellar parameters and 18 individual-element abundances with associated uncertainty for the entire APOGEE DR14 dataset. Simultaneously, we release astroNN, a well-tested, open-source python package developed for this work, but that is also designed to be a general package for deep learning in astronomy. astroNN is available at with extensive documentation at

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