Classification of Planetary Nebulae through Deep Transfer Learning

Awang Iskandar, Dayang N. F.; Zijlstra, Albert A.; McDonald, Iain; Abdullah, Rosni; Fuller, Gary A.; Fauzi, Ahmad H. and Abdullah, Johari (2020). Classification of Planetary Nebulae through Deep Transfer Learning. Galaxies, 8(4), article no. 88.



This study investigate the effectiveness of using Deep Learning (DL) for the classification of planetary nebulae (PNe). It focusses on distinguishing PNe from other types of objects, as well as their morphological classification. We adopted the deep transfer learning approach using three ImageNet pre-trained algorithms. This study was conducted using images from the Hong Kong/Australian Astronomical Observatory/Strasbourg Observatory H-alpha Planetary Nebula research platform database (HASH DB) and the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS). We found that the algorithm has high success in distinguishing True PNe from other types of objects even without any parameter tuning. The Matthews correlation coefficient is 0.9. Our analysis shows that DenseNet201 is the most effective DL algorithm. For the morphological classification, we found for three classes, Bipolar, Elliptical and Round, half of objects are correctly classified. Further improvement may require more data and/or training. We discuss the trade-offs and potential avenues for future work and conclude that deep transfer learning can be utilized to classify wide-field astronomical images.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions



  • Item ORO ID
  • 74163
  • Item Type
  • Journal Item
  • ISSN
  • 2075-4434
  • Project Funding Details
  • Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
    “Deep Learning for Classification of Astronomical Archives”ST/R006768/1UK Science and Technology Facilities Council
    Newton-Ungku Omar FundF08/STFC/1792/2018Not Set
  • Keywords
  • deep learning; transfer learning; planetary nebulae; morphology; classification; HASH DB; Pan-STARRS
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Physical Sciences
    Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2020 Dayang N. F. Awang Iskandar, © 2020 Albert A. Zijlstra, © 2020 Iain McDonald, © 2020 Rosni Abdullah, © 2020 Gary A. Fuller, © 2020 Ahmad H. Fauzi, © 2020 Johari Abdullah
  • SWORD Depositor
  • Jisc Publications-Router
  • Depositing User
  • Jisc Publications-Router