Toward efficient detection of small Near-Earth asteroids using the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF)

Quanzhi Ye, Frank J. Masci, Hsing Wen Lin, Bryce Bolin, Chan Kao Chang, Dmitry A. Duev, George Helou, Wing Huen Ip, David L. Kaplan, Emily Kramer, Ashish Mahabal, Chow Choong Ngeow, Avery J. Nielsen, Thomas A. Prince, Hanjie Tan, Ting Shuo Yeh, Eric C. Bellm, Richard Dekany, Matteo Giomi, Matthew J. GrahamShrinivas R. Kulkarni, Thomas Kupfer, Russ R. Laher, Ben Rusholme, David L. Shupe, Charlotte Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We describe ZStreak, a semi-real-time pipeline specialized in detecting small, fast-moving, near-Earth asteroids (NEAs), which is currently operating on the data from the newly commissioned Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) survey. Based on a prototype originally developed by Waszczak et al. (2017) for the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF), the predecessor of ZTF, ZStreak features an improved machine-learning model that can cope with the 10×data rate increment between PTF and ZTF. Since its first discovery on 2018 February 5 (2018 CL), ZTF/ ZStreak has discovered 45 confirmed new NEAs over a total of 232 observable nights until 2018 December 31. Most of the discoveries are small NEAs, with diameters less than ∼100m. By analyzing the discovery circumstances, we find that objects having the first to last detection time interval under 2 hr are at risk of being lost. We will further improve real-time follow-up capabilities, and work on suppressing false positives using deep learning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number078002
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Issue number1001
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • asteroids: general
  • minor planets
  • surveys


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