Variable star classification across the Galactic bulge and disc with the VISTA Variables in the Vía Láctea survey

Thomas A. Molnar, Jason L. Sanders, Leigh C. Smith, Vasily Belokurov, Philip Lucas, Dante Minniti

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We present VIVACE, the VIrac VAriable Classification Ensemble, a catalogue of variable stars extracted from an automated classification pipeline for the Vista Variables in the V\'ia L\'actea (VVV) infrared survey of the Galactic bar/bulge and southern disc. Our procedure utilises a two-stage hierarchical classifier to first isolate likely variable sources using simple variability summary statistics and training sets of non-variable sources from the Gaia early third data release, and then classify candidate variables using more detailed light curve statistics and training labels primarily from OGLE and VSX. The methodology is applied to point-spread-function photometry for $\sim490$ million light curves from the VIRAC v2 astrometric and photometric catalogue resulting in a catalogue of $\sim1.4$ million likely variable stars, of which $\sim39,000$ are high-confidence (classification probability $>0.9$) RR Lyrae ab stars, $\sim8000$ RR Lyrae c/d stars, $\sim187,000$ detached/semi-detached eclipsing binaries, $\sim18,000$ contact eclipsing binaries, $\sim1400$ classical Cepheid variables and $\sim2200$ Type II Cepheid variables. Comparison with OGLE-4 suggests a completeness of around $90\,\%$ for RRab and $\lesssim60\%$ for RRc/d, and a misclassification rate for known RR Lyrae stars of around $1\%$ for the high confidence sample. We close with two science demonstrations of our new VIVACE catalogue: first, a brief investigation of the spatial and kinematic properties of the RR Lyrae stars within the disc/bulge, demonstrating the spatial elongation of bar-bulge RR Lyrae stars is in the same sense as the more metal-rich red giant population whilst having a slower rotation rate of $\sim40\,\mathrm{km\,s}^{-1}\mathrm{kpc}^{-1}$; and secondly, an investigation of the Gaia EDR3 parallax zeropoint using contact eclipsing binaries across the Galactic disc plane and bulge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2566-2592
Number of pages27
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2021


  • astro-ph.SR
  • astro-ph.GA


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