Aims. We present a custom support vector machine classification package for photometric redshift estimation, including comparisons with other methods. We also explore the efficacy of including galaxy shape information in redshift estimation. Support vector machines, a type of machine learning, utilize optimization theory and supervised learning algorithms to construct predictive models based on the information content of data in a way that can treat different input features symmetrically, which can be a useful estimator of the information contained in additional features beyond photometry, such as those describing the morphology of galaxies.

Methods. The custom support vector machine package we have developed is designated SPIDERz and made available to the community. As test data for evaluating performance and comparison with other methods, we apply SPIDERz to four distinct data sets: 1) the publicly available portion of the PHAT-1 catalog based on the GOODS-N field with spectroscopic redshifts in the range z < 3.6, 2) 14 365 galaxies from the COSMOS bright survey with photometric band magnitudes, morphology, and spectroscopic redshifts inside z < 1.4, 3) 3048 galaxies from the overlap of COSMOS photometry and morphology with 3D-HST spectroscopy extending to z < 3.9, and 4) 2612 galaxies with five-band photometric magnitudes and morphology from the All-wavelength Extended Groth Strip International Survey and z < 1.57.

Results. We find that SPIDERz achieves results competitive with other empirical packages on the PHAT-1 data, and performs quite well in estimating redshifts with the COSMOS and AEGIS data, including in the cases of a large redshift range (0 < z < 3.9). We also determine from analyses with both the COSMOS and AEGIS data that the inclusion of morphological information does not have a statistically significant benefit for photometric redshift estimation with the techniques employed here.

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Copyright © 2017 ESO. This article first appeared in Astronomy & Astrophysics 600, A113 (2017), 1-11.

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