The cosmic microwave background quadrupole in a polarized light

Olivier Doré, Gilbert P. Holder, Abraham Loeb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The low quadrupole of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), measured by the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) and confirmed by the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), has generated much discussion recently. We point out that the well-known correlation between temperature and polarization anisotropies of the CMB further constrains the low-multipole anisotropy data. This correlation originates from the fact that the low-multipole polarization signal is sourced by the CMB quadrupole as seen by free electrons during the relatively recent cosmic history. Consequently, the large-angle temperature anisotropy data make restrictive predictions for the large-angle polarization anisotropy, which depend primarily on the optical depth for electron scattering after cosmological recombination, τ. We show that if current cosmological models for the generation of large-angle anisotropy are correct and the COBE/WMAP data are not significantly contaminated by non-CMB signals, then the observed ClTE amplitude on the largest scales is discrepant at the ∼99.8% level with the observed ClTT for the concordant ACDM model with τ = 0.10. Using τ = 0.17, the preferred WMAP model-independent value, the discrepancy is at the level of 98.5%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-85
Number of pages5
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Sep 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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