New distance measures for classifying X-ray astronomy data into stellar classes

Amparo Baíllo, Javier Cárcamo, Konstantin Getman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The classification of the X-ray sources into classes (such as extragalactic sources, background stars,..) is an essential task in astronomy. Typically, one of the classes corresponds to extragalactic radiation, whose photon emission behaviour is well characterized by a homogeneous Poisson process. We propose to use normalized versions of the Wasserstein and Zolotarev distances to quantify the deviation of the distribution of photon interarrival times from the exponential class. Our main motivation is the analysis of a massive dataset from X-ray astronomy obtained by the Chandra Orion Ultradeep Project (COUP). This project yielded a large catalog of 1616 X-ray cosmic sources in the Orion Nebula region, with their series of photon arrival times and associated energies. We consider the plug-in estimators of these metrics, determine their asymptotic distributions, and illustrate their finite-sample performance with a Monte Carlo study. We estimate these metrics for each COUP source from three different classes. We conclude that our proposal provides a striking amount of information on the nature of the photon emitting sources. Further, these variables have the ability to identify X-ray sources wrongly catalogued before. As an appealing conclusion, we show that some sources, previously classified as extragalactic emissions, have a much higher probability of being young stars in Orion Nebula.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-557
Number of pages27
JournalAdvances in Data Analysis and Classification
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics


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