M. Ness, David W. Hogg, H. W. Rix, Anna Y.Q. Ho, G. Zasowski

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    New spectroscopic surveys offer the promise of stellar parameters and abundances ("stellar labels") for hundreds of thousands of stars; this poses a formidable spectral modeling challenge. In many cases, there is a subset of reference objects for which the stellar labels are known with high(er) fidelity. We take advantage of this with The Cannon, a new data-driven approach for determining stellar labels from spectroscopic data. The Cannon learns from the "known" labels of reference stars how the continuum-normalized spectra depend on these labels by fitting a flexible model at each wavelength; then, The Cannon uses this model to derive labels for the remaining survey stars. We illustrate The Cannon by training the model on only 542 stars in 19 clusters as reference objects, with and as the labels, and then applying it to the spectra of 55,000 stars from APOGEE DR10. The Cannon is very accurate. Its stellar labels compare well to the stars for which APOGEE pipeline (ASPCAP) labels are provided in DR10, with rms differences that are basically identical to the stated ASPCAP uncertainties. Beyond the reference labels, The Cannon makes no use of stellar models nor any line-list, but needs a set of reference objects that span label-space. The Cannon performs well at lower signal-to-noise, as it delivers comparably good labels even at one-ninth the APOGEE observing time. We discuss the limitations of The Cannon and its future potential, particularly, to bring different spectroscopic surveys onto a consistent scale of stellar labels.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number16
    JournalAstrophysical Journal
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jul 20 2015


    • methods: data analysis
    • methods: statistical
    • stars: abundances
    • stars: fundamental parameters
    • surveys
    • techniques: spectroscopic

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Astronomy and Astrophysics
    • Space and Planetary Science


    Dive into the research topics of 'THE CANNON: A DATA-DRIVEN APPROACH to STELLAR LABEL DETERMINATION'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this