DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stad2458 ISSN:

Albatross: A scalable simulation-based inference pipeline for analysing stellar streams in the Milky Way

James Alvey, Mathis Gerdes, Christoph Weniger
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics


Stellar streams are potentially a very sensitive observational probe of galactic astrophysics, as well as the dark matter population in the Milky Way. On the other hand, performing a detailed, high-fidelity statistical analysis of these objects is challenging for a number of key reasons. Firstly, the modelling of streams across their (potentially billions of years old) dynamical age is complex and computationally costly. Secondly, their detection and classification in large surveys such as Gaia renders a robust statistical description regarding e.g., the stellar membership probabilities, challenging. As a result, the majority of current analyses must resort to simplified models that use only subsets or summaries of the high quality data. In this work, we develop a new analysis framework that takes advantage of advances in simulation-based inference techniques to perform complete analysis on complex stream models. To facilitate this, we develop a new, modular dynamical modelling code sstrax for stellar streams that is highly accelerated using jax. We test our analysis pipeline on a mock observation that resembles the GD1 stream, and demonstrate that we can perform robust inference on all relevant parts of the stream model simultaneously. Finally, we present some outlook as to how this approach can be developed further to perform more complete and accurate statistical analyses of current and future data.

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