Updated nucleosynthesis constraints on unstable relic particles

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We reexamine the upper limits on the abundance of unstable massive relic particles provided by the success of big-bang nucleosynthesis calculations. We use the cosmic microwave background data to constrain the baryon-to-photon ratio, and incorporate an extensively updated compilation of cross sections into a new calculation of the network of reactions induced by electromagnetic showers that create and destroy the light elements deuterium, [Formula Presented]He, [Formula Presented]He, [Formula Presented]Li and [Formula Presented]Li. We derive analytic approximations that complement and check the full numerical calculations. Considerations of the abundances of [Formula Presented]He and [Formula Presented]Li exclude exceptional regions of parameter space that would otherwise have been permitted by deuterium alone. We illustrate our results by applying them to massive gravitinos. If they weigh [Formula Presented] their primordial abundance should have been below about [Formula Presented] of the total entropy. This would imply an upper limit on the reheating temperature of a few times [Formula Presented] which could be a potential difficulty for some models of inflation. We discuss possible ways of evading this problem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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