Cosmology with the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect

John E. Carlstrom, Gilbert P. Holder, Erik D. Reese

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect (SZE) provides a unique way to map the large-scale structure of the universe as traced by massive clusters of galaxies. As a spectral distortion of the cosmic microwave background, the SZE is insensitive to the redshift of the galaxy cluster, making it well-suited for studies of clusters at all redshifts, and especially at reasonably high redshifts (z > 1) where the abundance of clusters is critically dependent on the underlying cosmology. Recent high signal-to-noise detections of the SZE have enabled interesting constraints on the Hubble constant and on the matter density of the universe using small samples of galaxy clusters. Upcoming SZE surveys are expected to find hundreds to thousands of new galaxy clusters, with a mass selection function that is remarkably uniform with redshift. In this review we provide an overview of the SZE and its use for cosmological studies, with emphasis on the cosmology that can, in principle, be extracted from SZE survey yields. We discuss the observational and theoretical challenges that must be met before precise cosmological constraints can be extracted from the survey yields.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)643-680
Number of pages38
JournalAnnual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Cosmic microwave background
  • Galaxy clusters
  • Structure formation
  • Surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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