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Workshop: NeurIPS 2023 Workshop: Machine Learning and the Physical Sciences

Deep Learning Segmentation of Spiral Arms and Bars

Mike Walmsley · Ashley Spindler


We present the first deep learning model for segmenting galactic spiral arms and bars. In a blinded assessment by expert astronomers, our predicted spiral arm masks are preferred over both current automated methods (99% of evaluations) and our original volunteer labels (79% of evaluations). Experts rated our spiral arm masks as mostly good' toperfect' in 89% of evaluations. Bar lengths trivially derived from our predicted bar masks are in excellent agreement with a dedicated crowdsourcing project. The pixelwise precision of our masks, previously impossible at scale, will underpin new research into how spiral arms and bars evolve.

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