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Finding the most distant objects in the Universe by finding anomalous entries in big databases

Mortlock, D (Imperial College London)
Monday 25 March 2013, 11:15-11:45

Seminar Room 1, Newton Institute


Modern astronomical surveys can detect billions of distinct sources, which are made available to the international community in the form of on-line databases. Each object is characterised by tens or hundreds of attributes, generally heuristic statistics calculated from the raw data to encode the source's more important characteristics. In my research I attempt to find unusual objects in such databases, and here I describe a case study: searching for the most distant quasars (the glowing material falling onto the super-massive black holes that exist at the centres of most galaxies). This search was ultimately successful, in large part due to a Bayesian candidate selection algorithm, although with hindsight several aspects of the search could have been improved.


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