Multi-CCD Point Spread Function Modelling

Context. Galaxy imaging surveys observe a vast number of objects that are affected by the instrument’s Point Spread Function (PSF). Weak lensing missions, in particular, aim at measuring the shape of galaxies, and PSF effects represent an important source of systematic errors which must be handled appropriately. This demands a high accuracy in the modelling as well as the estimation of the PSF at galaxy positions.

Aims. Sometimes referred to as non-parametric PSF estimation, the goal of this paper is to estimate a PSF at galaxy positions, starting from a set of noisy star image observations distributed over the focal plane. To accomplish this, we need our model to first of all, precisely capture the PSF field variations over the Field of View (FoV), and then to recover the PSF at the selected positions. Methods. This paper proposes a new method, coined MCCD (Multi-CCD PSF modelling), that creates, simultaneously, a PSF field model over all of the instrument’s focal plane. This allows to capture global as well as local PSF features through the use of two complementary models which enforce different spatial constraints. Most existing non-parametric models build one model per Charge-Coupled Device (CCD), which can lead to difficulties in capturing global ellipticity patterns.

Results. We first test our method on a realistic simulated dataset comparing it with two state-of-the-art PSF modelling methods (PSFEx and RCA). We outperform both of them with our proposed method. Then we contrast our approach with PSFEx on real data from CFIS (Canada-France Imaging Survey) that uses the CFHT (Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope). We show that our PSF model is less noisy and achieves a ~ 22% gain on pixel Root Mean Squared Error (RMSE) with respect to PSFEx.

Conclusions. We present, and share the code of, a new PSF modelling algorithm that models the PSF field on all the focal plane that is mature enough to handle real data.

Reference: Tobias Liaudat, Jérôme Bonnin,  Jean-Luc Starck, Morgan A. Schmitz, Axel Guinot, Martin Kilbinger and Stephen D. J. Gwyn. “Multi-CCD Point Spread Function Modelling, submitted 2020.

arXiv, code.

Deep Learning for space-variant deconvolution in galaxy surveys


Authors: Florent Sureau, Alexis Lechat, J-L. Starck
Journal: Astronomy and Astrophysics
Year: 2020
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201937039
Download: ADS | arXiv


The deconvolution of large survey images with millions of galaxies requires developing a new generation of methods that can take a space-variant point spread function into account. These methods have also to be accurate and fast. We investigate how deep learning might be used to perform this task. We employed a U-net deep neural network architecture to learn parameters that were adapted for galaxy image processing in a supervised setting and studied two deconvolution strategies. The first approach is a post-processing of a mere Tikhonov deconvolution with closed-form solution, and the second approach is an iterative deconvolution framework based on the alternating direction method of multipliers (ADMM). Our numerical results based on GREAT3 simulations with realistic galaxy images and point spread functions show that our two approaches outperform standard techniques that are based on convex optimization, whether assessed in galaxy image reconstruction or shape recovery. The approach based on a Tikhonov deconvolution leads to the most accurate results, except for ellipticity errors at high signal-to-noise ratio. The ADMM approach performs slightly better in this case. Considering that the Tikhonov approach is also more computation-time efficient in processing a large number of galaxies, we recommend this approach in this scenario.

In the spirit of reproducible research, the codes will be made freely available on the CosmoStat website ( The testing datasets will also be provided to repeat the experiments performed in this paper.

Euclid: Non-parametric point spread function field recovery through interpolation on a Graph Laplacian


Authors: M.A. Schmitz, J.-L. Starck, F. Ngole Mboula, N. Auricchio, J. Brinchmann, R.I. Vito Capobianco, R. Clédassou, L. Conversi, L. Corcione, N. Fourmanoit, M. Frailis, B. Garilli, F. Hormuth, D. Hu, H. Israel, S. Kermiche, T. D. Kitching, B. Kubik, M. Kunz, S. Ligori, P.B. Lilje, I. Lloro, O. Mansutti, O. Marggraf, R.J. Massey, F. Pasian, V. Pettorino, F. Raison, J.D. Rhodes, M. Roncarelli, R.P. Saglia, P. Schneider, S. Serrano, A.N. Taylor, R. Toledo-Moreo, L. Valenziano, C. Vuerli, J. Zoubian
Journal: submitted to A&A
Year: 2019
Download:  arXiv



Context. Future weak lensing surveys, such as the Euclid mission, will attempt to measure the shapes of billions of galaxies in order to derive cosmological information. These surveys will attain very low levels of statistical error and systematic errors must be extremely well controlled. In particular, the point spread function (PSF) must be estimated using stars in the field, and recovered with high accuracy.
Aims. This paper's contributions are twofold. First, we take steps toward a non-parametric method to address the issue of recovering the PSF field, namely that of finding the correct PSF at the position of any galaxy in the field, applicable to Euclid. Our approach relies solely on the data, as opposed to parametric methods that make use of our knowledge of the instrument. Second, we study the impact of imperfect PSF models on the shape measurement of galaxies themselves, and whether common assumptions about this impact hold true in a Euclid scenario.
Methods. We use the recently proposed Resolved Components Analysis approach to deal with the undersampling of observed star images. We then estimate the PSF at the positions of galaxies by interpolation on a set of graphs that contain information relative to its spatial variations. We compare our approach to PSFEx, then quantify the impact of PSF recovery errors on galaxy shape measurements through image simulations.
Results. Our approach yields an improvement over PSFEx in terms of PSF model and on observed galaxy shape errors, though it is at present not sufficient to reach the required Euclid accuracy. We also find that different shape measurement approaches can react differently to the same PSF modelling errors.

A Distributed Learning Architecture for Scientific Imaging Problems


Authors: A. Panousopoulou, S. Farrens, K. Fotiadou, A. Woiselle, G. Tsagkatakis, J-L. Starck,  P. Tsakalides
Journal: arXiv
Year: 2018
Download: ADS | arXiv


Current trends in scientific imaging are challenged by the emerging need of integrating sophisticated machine learning with Big Data analytics platforms. This work proposes an in-memory distributed learning architecture for enabling sophisticated learning and optimization techniques on scientific imaging problems, which are characterized by the combination of variant information from different origins. We apply the resulting, Spark-compliant, architecture on two emerging use cases from the scientific imaging domain, namely: (a) the space variant deconvolution of galaxy imaging surveys (astrophysics), (b) the super-resolution based on coupled dictionary training (remote sensing). We conduct evaluation studies considering relevant datasets, and the results report at least 60\% improvement in time response against the conventional computing solutions. Ultimately, the offered discussion provides useful practical insights on the impact of key Spark tuning parameters on the speedup achieved, and the memory/disk footprint.

PSF field learning based on Optimal Transport Distances


Authors: F. Ngolè Mboula, J-L. Starck
Journal: arXiv
Year: 2017
Download: ADS | arXiv



Context: in astronomy, observing large fractions of the sky within a reasonable amount of time implies using large field-of-view (fov) optical instruments that typically have a spatially varying Point Spread Function (PSF). Depending on the scientific goals, galaxies images need to be corrected for the PSF whereas no direct measurement of the PSF is available. Aims: given a set of PSFs observed at random locations, we want to estimate the PSFs at galaxies locations for shapes measurements correction. Contributions: we propose an interpolation framework based on Sliced Optimal Transport. A non-linear dimension reduction is first performed based on local pairwise approximated Wasserstein distances. A low dimensional representation of the unknown PSFs is then estimated, which in turn is used to derive representations of those PSFs in the Wasserstein metric. Finally, the interpolated PSFs are calculated as approximated Wasserstein barycenters. Results: the proposed method was tested on simulated monochromatic PSFs of the Euclid space mission telescope (to be launched in 2020). It achieves a remarkable accuracy in terms of pixels values and shape compared to standard methods such as Inverse Distance Weighting or Radial Basis Function based interpolation methods.

Space variant deconvolution of galaxy survey images


Authors: S. Farrens, J-L. Starck, F. Ngolè Mboula
Journal: A&A
Year: 2017
Download: ADS | arXiv


Removing the aberrations introduced by the Point Spread Function (PSF) is a fundamental aspect of astronomical image processing. The presence of noise in observed images makes deconvolution a nontrivial task that necessitates the use of regularisation. This task is particularly difficult when the PSF varies spatially as is the case for the Euclid telescope. New surveys will provide images containing thousand of galaxies and the deconvolution regularisation problem can be considered from a completely new perspective. In fact, one can assume that galaxies belong to a low-rank dimensional space. This work introduces the use of the low-rank matrix approximation as a regularisation prior for galaxy image deconvolution and compares its performance with a standard sparse regularisation technique. This new approach leads to a natural way to handle a space variant PSF. Deconvolution is performed using a Python code that implements a primal-dual splitting algorithm. The data set considered is a sample of 10 000 space-based galaxy images convolved with a known spatially varying Euclid-like PSF and including various levels of Gaussian additive noise. Performance is assessed by examining the deconvolved galaxy image pixels and shapes. The results demonstrate that for small samples of galaxies sparsity performs better in terms of pixel and shape recovery, while for larger samples of galaxies it is possible to obtain more accurate estimates of the galaxy shapes using the low-rank approximation.


Point Spread Function

The Point Spread Function or PSF of an imaging system (also referred to as the impulse response) describes how the system responds to a point (unextended) source. In astrophysics, stars or quasars are often used to measure the PSF of an instrument as in ideal conditions their light would occupy a single pixel on a CCD. Telescopes, however, diffract the incoming photons which limits the maximum resolution achievable. In reality, the images obtained from telescopes include aberrations from various sources such as:

  • The atmosphere (for ground based instruments)
  • Jitter (for space based instruments)
  • Imperfections in the optical system
  • Charge spread of the detectors


In order to recover the true image properties it is necessary to remove PSF effects from observations. If the PSF is known (which is certainly not trivial) one can attempt to deconvolve the PSF from the image. In the absence of noise this is simple. We can model the observed image \(\mathbf{y}\) as follows


where \(\mathbf{x}\) is the true image and \(\mathbf{H}\) is an operator that represents the convolution with the PSF. Thus, to recover the true image, one would simply invert \(\mathbf{H}\) as follows


Unfortunately, the images we observe also contain noise (e.g. from the CCD readout) and this complicates the problem.

\(\mathbf{y}=\mathbf{Hx} + \mathbf{n}\)

This problem is ill-posed as even the tiniest amount of noise will have a large impact on the result of the operation. Therefore, to obtain a stable and unique solution, it is necessary to regularise the problem by adding additional prior knowledge of the true images.


One way to regularise the problem is using sparsity. The concept of sparsity is quite simple. If we know that there is a representation of \(\mathbf{x}\) that is sparse (i.e. most of the coefficients are zeros) then we can force our deconvolved observation \(\mathbf{\hat{x}}\) to be sparse in the same domain. In practice we aim to minimise a problem of the following form

\(\begin{aligned} & \underset{\mathbf{x}}{\text{argmin}} & \frac{1}{2}\|\mathbf{y}-\mathbf{H}\mathbf{x}\|_2^2 + \lambda\|\Phi(\mathbf{x})\|_1 & & \text{s.t.} & & \mathbf{x} \ge 0 \end{aligned}\)

where \(\Phi\) is a matrix that transforms \(\mathbf{x}\) to the sparse domain and \(\lambda\) is a regularisation control parameter.

Low-Rank Approximation

Another way to regularise the problem is assume that all of the images one aims to deconvolve live on a underlying low-rank manifold. In other words, if we have a sample of galaxy images we wish to deconvolve then we can construct a matrix X X where each column is a vector of galaxy pixel coefficients. If many of these galaxies have similar properties then we know that X X will have a smaller rank than if images were all very different. We can use this knowledge to regularise the deconvolution problem in the following way

\(\begin{aligned} & \underset{\mathbf{X}}{\text{argmin}} & \frac{1}{2}\|\mathbf{Y}-\mathcal{H}(\mathbf{X})\|_2^2 + \lambda|\mathbf{X}\|_* & & \text{s.t.} & & \mathbf{X} \ge 0 \end{aligned} \)


In the paper I implement both of these regularisation techniques and compare how well they perform at deconvolving a sample of 10,000 Euclid-like galaxy images. The results show that, for the data used, sparsity does a better job at recovering the image pixels, while the low-rank approximation does a better job a recovering the galaxy shapes (provided enough galaxies are used).


SF_DECONVOLVE is a Python code designed for PSF deconvolution using a low-rank approximation and sparsity. The code can handle a fixed PSF for the entire field or a stack of PSFs for each galaxy position.


Constraint matrix factorization for space variant PSFs field restoration


Authors: F. Ngolè Mboula, J-L. Starck, K. Okumura, J. Amiaux, P. Hudelot
Journal: IOP Inverse Problems
Year: 2016
Download: ADS | arXiv



Context: in large-scale spatial surveys, the Point Spread Function (PSF) varies across the instrument field of view (FOV). Local measurements of the PSFs are given by the isolated stars images. Yet, these estimates may not be directly usable for post-processings because of the observational noise and potentially the aliasing. Aims: given a set of aliased and noisy stars images from a telescope, we want to estimate well-resolved and noise-free PSFs at the observed stars positions, in particular, exploiting the spatial correlation of the PSFs across the FOV. Contributions: we introduce RCA (Resolved Components Analysis) which is a noise-robust dimension reduction and super-resolution method based on matrix factorization. We propose an original way of using the PSFs spatial correlation in the restoration process through sparsity. The introduced formalism can be applied to correlated data sets with respect to any euclidean parametric space. Results: we tested our method on simulated monochromatic PSFs of Euclid telescope (launch planned for 2020). The proposed method outperforms existing PSFs restoration and dimension reduction methods. We show that a coupled sparsity constraint on individual PSFs and their spatial distribution yields a significant improvement on both the restored PSFs shapes and the PSFs subspace identification, in presence of aliasing. Perspectives: RCA can be naturally extended to account for the wavelength dependency of the PSFs.

Super-resolution method using sparse regularization for point-spread function recovery


Authors: F. Ngolè Mboula, J-L. Starck, S. Ronayette, K. Okumura, J. Amiaux
Journal: A&A
Year: 2015
Download: ADS | arXiv



In large-scale spatial surveys, such as the forthcoming ESA Euclid mission, images may be undersampled due to the optical sensors sizes. Therefore, one may consider using a super-resolution (SR) method to recover aliased frequencies, prior to further analysis. This is particularly relevant for point-source images, which provide direct measurements of the instrument point-spread function (PSF). We introduce SPRITE, SParse Recovery of InsTrumental rEsponse, which is an SR algorithm using a sparse analysis prior. We show that such a prior provides significant improvements over existing methods, especially on low SNR PSFs.