How Additional Massless Neutrinos Affect the Cosmic Microwave Background Damping Tail

Astronomy and Astrophysics – Astrophysics – Cosmology and Extragalactic Astrophysics

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We analytically explain and numerically demonstrate that the preference of recent CMB data for extra neutrino species comes almost entirely from their contribution to the expansion rate prior to recombination. Combining CMB data with lower-redshift probes of the expansion rate, we find that the number of neutrinos is greater than the standard model value with 98.4% confidence. There is some tension between extra neutrino species and the abundance of nearby galaxy clusters.

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