Identifying anomalous radio sources in the Evolutionary Map of the Universe Pilot Survey using a complexity-based approach

Gary Segal, David Parkinson, Ray Norris, Andrew M. Hopkins, Heinz Andernach, Emma L. Alexander, Ettore Carretti, Bärbel S. Koribalski, Letjatji S. Legodi, Sarah Leslie, Yan Luo, Jonathon C.S. Pierce, Hongming Tang, Eleni Vardoulaki, Tessa Vernstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The Evolutionary Map of the Universe (EMU) large-area radio continuum survey will detect tens of millions of radio galaxies, giving an opportunity for the detection of previously unknown classes of objects. To maximize the scientific value and make new discoveries, the analysis of these data will need to go beyond simple visual inspection. We propose the coarse-grained complexity, a simple scalar quantity relating to the minimum description length of an image that can be used to identify unusual structures. The complexity can be computed without reference to the broader sample or existing catalogue data, making the computation efficient on new surveys at very large scales (such as the full EMU survey). We apply our coarse-grained complexity measure to data from the EMU Pilot Survey to detect and confirm anomalous objects in this data set and produce an anomaly catalogue. Rather than work with existing catalogue data using a specific source detection algorithm, we perform a blind scan of the area, computing the complexity using a sliding square aperture. The effectiveness of the complexity measure for identifying anomalous objects is evaluated using crowd-sourced labels generated via the platform. We find that the complexity scan identifies unusual sources, such as odd radio circles, by partitioning on complexity. We achieve partitions where 5 per cent of the data is estimated to be 86 per cent complete, and 0.5 per cent is estimated to be 94 per cent pure, with respect to anomalies and use this to produce an anomaly catalogue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1429-1447
Number of pages19
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023


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