Primordial nucleosynthesis with CMB inputs: Probing the early universe and light element astrophysics

Richard H. Cyburt, Brian D. Fields, Keith A. Olive

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Cosmic microwave background (CMB) determinations of the baryon-to-photon ratio η ∝ Ωbaryonh2 will remove the last free parameter from (standard) big bang nucleosynthesis (BBN) calculations. This will make BBN a much sharper probe of early universe physics, for example, greatly refining the BBN measurement of the effective number of light neutrino species, Nv,eff. We show how the CMB can improve this limit, given current light element data. Moreover, it will become possible to constrain Nv,eff independent of 4He, by using other elements, notably deuterium; this will allow for sharper limits and tests of systematics. For example, a 3% measurement of η, together with a 10% (3%) measurement of primordial D/H, can measure Nv,eff to a 95% confidence level of σ95%(Nv,eff) = 1.8 (1.0) if η ∼ 6.0 × 10-10. If instead, one adopts the standard model value Nv,eff = 3, then one can use η (and its uncertainty) from the CMB to make accurate predictions for the primordial abundances. These determinations can in turn become key inputs in the nucleosynthesis history (chemical evolution) of galaxies thereby placing constraints on such models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-100
Number of pages14
JournalAstroparticle Physics
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 26 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

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