The Quintessential CMB, Past & Future

Astronomy and Astrophysics – Astrophysics

Scientific paper

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14 pages, 3 figs., in Proc. CAPP-2000 (AIP), CITA-2000-64

Scientific paper


The past, present and future of cosmic microwave background (CMB) anisotropy research is discussed, with emphasis on the Boomerang and Maxima balloon experiments. These data are combined with large scale structure (LSS) information and high redshift supernova (SN1) observations to explore the inflation-based cosmic structure formation paradigm. Here we primarily focus on a simplified inflation parameter set, {omega_b,omega_{cdm},Omega_{tot}, Omega_Q,w_Q, n_s,tau_C, sigma_8}. After marginalizing over the other cosmic and experimental variables, we find the current CMB+LSS+SN1 data gives Omega_{tot}=1.04\pm 0.05, consistent with (non-baroque) inflation theory. Restricting to Omega_{tot}=1, we find a nearly scale invariant spectrum, n_s =1.03 \pm 0.07. The CDM density, omega_{cdm}=0.17\pm 0.02, is in the expected range, but the baryon density, omega_b=0.030\pm 0.004, is slightly larger than the current nucleosynthesis estimate. Substantial dark energy is inferred, Omega_Q\approx 0.68\pm 0.05, and CMB+LSS Omega_Q values are compatible with the independent SN1 estimates. The dark energy equation of state, parameterized by a quintessence-field pressure-to-density ratio w_Q, is not well determined by CMB+LSS (w_Q<-0.3 at 95%CL), but when combined with SN1 the resulting w_Q<-0.7 limit is quite consistent with the w_Q=-1 cosmological constant case. Though forecasts of statistical errors on parameters for current and future experiments are rosy, rooting out systematic errors will define the true progress.

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