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CMB as a Probe of New Physics and Old Times


Gluščević, Vera (2013) CMB as a Probe of New Physics and Old Times. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/VZ0P-XD08.


Cosmic birefringence (CB)---a rotation of photon-polarization plane in vacuum---is a generic signature of new scalar fields that could provide dark energy. Previously, WMAP observations excluded a uniform CB-rotation angle larger than a degree.

In this thesis, we develop a minimum-variance--estimator formalism for reconstructing direction-dependent rotation from full-sky CMB maps, and forecast more than an order-of-magnitude improvement in sensitivity with incoming Planck data and future satellite missions. Next, we perform the first analysis of WMAP-7 data to look for rotation-angle anisotropies and report null detection of the rotation-angle power-spectrum multipoles below L=512, constraining quadrupole amplitude of a scale-invariant power to less than one degree. We further explore the use of a cross-correlation between CMB temperature and the rotation for detecting the CB signal, for different quintessence models. We find that it may improve sensitivity in case of marginal detection, and provide an empirical handle for distinguishing details of new physics indicated by CB.

We then consider other parity-violating physics beyond standard models---in particular, a chiral inflationary-gravitational-wave background. We show that WMAP has no constraining power, while a cosmic-variance--limited experiment would be capable of detecting only a large parity violation. In case of a strong detection of EB/TB correlations, CB can be readily distinguished from chiral gravity waves.

We next adopt our CB analysis to investigate patchy screening of the CMB, driven by inhomogeneities during the Epoch of Reionization (EoR). We constrain a toy model of reionization with WMAP-7 data, and show that data from Planck should start approaching interesting portions of the EoR parameter space and can be used to exclude reionization tomographies with large ionized bubbles.

In light of the upcoming data from low-frequency radio observations of the redshifted 21-cm line from the EoR, we examine probability-distribution functions (PDFs) and difference PDFs of the simulated 21-cm brightness temperature, and discuss the information that can be recovered using these statistics. We find that PDFs are insensitive to details of small-scale physics, but highly sensitive to the properties of the ionizing sources and the size of ionized bubbles.

Finally, we discuss prospects for related future investigations.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:cosmology, cosmic microwave background, dark energy, quintessence, cosmic reionization
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Astrophysics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Kamionkowski, Marc P.
Group:TAPIR, Astronomy Department
Thesis Committee:
  • Hirata, Christopher M. (chair)
  • Johnson, John A.
  • Carroll, Sean M.
  • Golwala, Sunil
  • Kamionkowski, Marc P.
Defense Date:28 February 2013
Non-Caltech Author Email:vera.gluscevic (AT)
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:06032013-130145873
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7824
Deposited By: Vera Gluscevic
Deposited On:06 Jun 2013 22:02
Last Modified:26 Oct 2021 17:29

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