Volume 616, August 2018
|Number of page(s)||21|
|Section||Celestial mechanics and astrometry|
|Published online||31 August 2018|
Optimality of the maximum likelihood estimator in astrometry
Information and Decision Systems Group, Department of Electrical Engineering, Facultad de Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas, Universidad de Chile, Beauchef 850, Santiago, Chile
e-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Departamento de Astronomía, Facultad de Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas, Universidad de Chile, Casilla 36-D, Santiago, Chile
3 Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Southern California, 90007 CA, USA
Accepted: 4 May 2018
Context. Astrometry relies on the precise measurement of the positions and motions of celestial objects. Driven by the ever-increasing accuracy of astrometric measurements, it is important to critically assess the maximum precision that could be achieved with these observations.
Aims. The problem of astrometry is revisited from the perspective of analyzing the attainability of well-known performance limits (the Cramér–Rao bound) for the estimation of the relative position of light-emitting (usually point-like) sources on a charge-coupled device (CCD)-like detector using commonly adopted estimators such as the weighted least squares and the maximum likelihood.
Methods. Novel technical results are presented to determine the performance of an estimator that corresponds to the solution of an optimization problem in the context of astrometry. Using these results we are able to place stringent bounds on the bias and the variance of the estimators in close form as a function of the data. We confirm these results through comparisons to numerical simulations under a broad range of realistic observing conditions.
Results. The maximum likelihood and the weighted least square estimators are analyzed. We confirm the sub-optimality of the weighted least squares scheme from medium to high signal-to-noise found in an earlier study for the (unweighted) least squares method. We find that the maximum likelihood estimator achieves optimal performance limits across a wide range of relevant observational conditions. Furthermore, from our results, we provide concrete insights for adopting an adaptive weighted least square estimator that can be regarded as a computationally efficient alternative to the optimal maximum likelihood solution.
Conclusions. We provide, for the first time, close-form analytical expressions that bound the bias and the variance of the weighted least square and maximum likelihood implicit estimators for astrometry using a Poisson-driven detector. These expressions can be used to formally assess the precision attainable by these estimators in comparison with the minimum variance bound.
Key words: astrometry / methods: statistical / methods: analytical
© ESO 2018
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