Toward an understanding of the properties of neural network approaches for supernovae light curve approximation

Mariia Demianenko, Konstantin Malanchev, Ekaterina Samorodova, Mikhail Sysak, Aleksandr Shiriaev, Denis Derkach, Mikhail Hushchyn

The modern time-domain photometric surveys collect a lot of observations of various astronomical objects, and the coming era of large-scale surveys will provide even more information. Most of the objects have never received a spectroscopic follow-up, which is especially crucial for transients e.g. supernovae. In such cases, observed light curves could present an affordable alternative. Time series are actively used for photometric classification and characterization, such as peak and luminosity decline estimation. However, the collected time series are multidimensional, irregularly sampled, contain outliers, and do not have well-defined systematic uncertainties. Machine learning methods help extract useful information from available data in the most efficient way. We consider several light curve approximation methods based on neural networks: Multilayer Perceptrons, Bayesian Neural Networks, and Normalizing Flows, to approximate observations of a single light curve. Tests using both the simulated PLAsTiCC and real Zwicky Transient Facility data samples demonstrate that even few observations are enough to fit networks and achieve better approximation quality than other state-of-the-art methods. We show that the methods described in this work have better computational complexity and work faster than Gaussian Processes. We analyze the performance of the approximation techniques aiming to fill the gaps in the observations of the light curves, and show that the use of appropriate technique increases the accuracy of peak finding and supernova classification. In addition, the study results are organized in a Fulu Python library available on GitHub, which can be easily used by the community.

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