Clustering with phylogenetic tools in astrophysics [IMA]

Phylogenetic approaches are finding more and more applications outside the field of biology. Astrophysics is no exception since an overwhelming amount of multivariate data has appeared in the last twenty years or so. In particular, the diversification of galaxies throughout the evolution of the Universe quite naturally invokes phylogenetic approaches. We have demonstrated that Maximum Parsimony brings useful astrophysical results, and we now proceed toward the analyses of large datasets for galaxies. In this talk I present how we solve the major difficulties for this goal: the choice of the parameters, their discretization, and the analysis of a high number of objects with an unsupervised NP-hard classification technique like cladistics. 1. Introduction How do the galaxy form, and when? How did the galaxy evolve and transform themselves to create the diversity we observe? What are the progenitors to present-day galaxies? To answer these big questions, observations throughout the Universe and the physical modelisation are obvious tools. But between these, there is a key process, without which it would be impossible to extract some digestible information from the complexity of these systems. This is classification. One century ago, galaxies were discovered by Hubble. From images obtained in the visible range of wavelengths, he synthetised his observations through the usual process: classification. With only one parameter (the shape) that is qualitative and determined with the eye, he found four categories: ellipticals, spirals, barred spirals and irregulars. This is the famous Hubble classification. He later hypothetized relationships between these classes, building the Hubble Tuning Fork. The Hubble classification has been refined, notably by de Vaucouleurs, and is still used as the only global classification of galaxies. Even though the physical relationships proposed by Hubble are not retained any more, the Hubble Tuning Fork is nearly always used to represent the classification of the galaxy diversity under its new name the Hubble sequence (e.g. Delgado-Serrano, 2012). Its success is impressive and can be understood by its simplicity, even its beauty, and by the many correlations found between the morphology of galaxies and their other properties. And one must admit that there is no alternative up to now, even though both the Hubble classification and diagram have been recognised to be unsatisfactory. Among the most obvious flaws of this classification, one must mention its monovariate, qualitative, subjective and old-fashioned nature, as well as the difficulty to characterise the morphology of distant galaxies. The first two most significant multivariate studies were by Watanabe et al. (1985) and Whitmore (1984). Since the year 2005, the number of studies attempting to go beyond the Hubble classification has increased largely. Why, despite of this, the Hubble classification and its sequence are still alive and no alternative have yet emerged (Sandage, 2005)? My feeling is that the results of the multivariate analyses are not easily integrated into a one-century old practice of modeling the observations. In addition, extragalactic objects like galaxies, stellar clusters or stars do evolve. Astronomy now provides data on very distant objects, raising the question of the relationships between those and our present day nearby galaxies. Clearly, this is a phylogenetic problem. Astrocladistics 1 aims at exploring the use of phylogenetic tools in astrophysics (Fraix-Burnet et al., 2006a,b). We have proved that Maximum Parsimony (or cladistics) can be applied in astrophysics and provides a new exploration tool of the data (Fraix-Burnet et al., 2009, 2012, Cardone \& Fraix-Burnet, 2013). As far as the classification of galaxies is concerned, a larger number of objects must now be analysed. In this paper, I

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D. Fraix-Burnet
Thu, 2 Jun 16

Comments: Proceedings of the 60th World Statistics Congress of the International Statistical Institute, ISI2015, Jul 2015, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil