Mimicking the halo-galaxy connection using machine learning

Natalí S.M. De Santi, Natália V.N. Rodrigues, Antonio D. Montero-Dorta, L. Raul Abramo, Beatriz Tucci, M. Celeste Artale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Elucidating the connection between the properties of galaxies and the properties of their hosting haloes is a key element in galaxy formation. When the spatial distribution of objects is also taken under consideration, it becomes very relevant for cosmological measurements. In this paper, we use machine-learning techniques to analyse these intricate relations in the IllustrisTNG300 magnetohydrodynamical simulation, predicting baryonic properties from halo properties. We employ four different algorithms: extremely randomized trees, K-nearest neighbours, light gradient boosting machine, and neural networks, along with a unique and powerful combination of the results from all four approaches. Overall, the different algorithms produce consistent results in terms of predicting galaxy properties from a set of input halo properties that include halo mass, concentration, spin, and halo overdensity. For stellar mass, the Pearson correlation coefficient is 0.98, dropping down to 0.7-0.8 for specific star formation rate (sSFR), colour, and size. In addition, we apply, for the first time in this context, an existing data augmentation method, synthetic minority oversampling technique for regression with Gaussian noise (SMOGN), designed to alleviate the problem of imbalanced data sets, showing that it improves the overall shape of the predicted distributions and the scatter in the halo-galaxy relations. We also demonstrate that our predictions are good enough to reproduce the power spectra of multiple galaxy populations, defined in terms of stellar mass, sSFR, colour, and size with high accuracy. Our results align with previous reports suggesting that certain galaxy properties cannot be reproduced using halo features alone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2463-2478
Number of pages16
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxies: clusters: general
  • Galaxies: haloes
  • Large-scale structure of Universe
  • Methods: data analysis
  • Methods: numerical
  • Methods: statistical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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