Stellar population inference with prospector

Benjamin D. Johnson, Joel Leja, Charlie Conroy, Joshua S. Speagle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

299 Scopus citations


Inference of the physical properties of stellar populations from observed photometry and spectroscopy is a key goal in the study of galaxy evolution. In recent years, the quality and quantity of the available data have increased, and there have been corresponding efforts to increase the realism of the stellar population models used to interpret these observations. Describing the observed galaxy spectral energy distributions in detail now requires physical models with a large number of highly correlated parameters. These models do not fit easily on grids and necessitate a full exploration of the available parameter space. We present PROSPECTOR, a flexible code for inferring stellar population parameters from photometry and spectroscopy spanning UV through IR wavelengths. This code is based on forward modeling the data and Monte Carlo sampling the posterior parameter distribution, enabling complex models and exploration of moderate dimensional parameter spaces. We describe the key ingredients of the code and discuss the general philosophy driving the design of these ingredients. We demonstrate some capabilities of the code on several data sets, including mock and real data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number22
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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