A universal method for solar filament detection from Hα observations using semi-supervised deep learning

Diercke, Andrea; Jarolim, Robert; Kuckein, Christoph; González Manrique, Sergio J.; Ziener, Marco; Veronig, Astrid M.; Denker, Carsten; Pötzi, Werner; Podladchikova, Tatiana; Pevtsov, Alexei A.
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Astronomy and Astrophysics

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Filaments are omnipresent features in the solar atmosphere. Their location, properties, and time evolution can provide important information about changes in solar activity and assist in the operational space weather forecast. Therefore, filaments have to be identified in full-disk images and their properties extracted from these images, but manual extraction is tedious and too time-consuming, and extraction with morphological image processing tools produces a large number of false positive detections. Automatic object detection, segmentation, and extraction in a reliable manner would allow for the processing of more data in a shorter time frame. The Chromospheric Telescope (ChroTel; Tenerife, Spain), the Global Oscillation Network Group (GONG), and the Kanzelhöhe Observatory for Solar and Environmental Research (KSO; Austria) provide regular full-disk observations of the Sun in the core of the chromospheric Hα absorption line. In this paper, we present a deep learning method that provides reliable extractions of solar filaments from Hα filtergrams. First, we trained the object detection algorithm YOLOv5 with labeled filament data of ChroTel Hα filtergrams. We used the trained model to obtain bounding boxes from the full GONG archive. In a second step, we applied a semi-supervised training approach where we used the bounding boxes of filaments to train the algorithm on a pixel-wise classification of solar filaments with u-net. We made use of the increased data set size, which avoids overfitting of spurious artifacts from the generated training masks. Filaments were predicted with an accuracy of 92%. With the resulting filament segmentations, physical parameters such as the area or tilt angle could be easily determined and studied. We demonstrated this in an example where we determined the rush-to-the pole for Solar Cycle 24 from the segmented GONG images. In a last step, we applied the filament detection to Hα observations from KSO and demonstrated the general applicability of our method to Hα filtergrams.