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Robust Constraint on Cosmic Textures from the Cosmic Microwave Background

22 June 2012


Stephen M. Feeney, Matthew C. Johnson, Daniel J. Mortlock, Hiranya V. Peiris

Phys. Rev. Lett. 108, 241301 (2012)


A random collection of textures taken from high-resolution, supercomputer simulations. Red indicates a positive twist in the topological charge density and blue a negative twist. Credit: V. Travieso and N. Turok

Theories of the primordial Universe predict the existence of knots in the fabric of space - known as cosmic textures – which could be identified by looking at light from the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the relic radiation left over from the Big Bang.

Using data from NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) satellite, researchers from UCL, Imperial College London and the Perimeter Institute have performed the first search for textures on the full sky, finding no evidence for such knots in space.

As the Universe cooled it underwent a series of phase transitions, analogous to water freezing into ice. Many transitions cannot occur consistently throughout space, giving rise in some theories to imperfections in the structure of the cooling material known as cosmic textures.

If produced in the early Universe, textures would interact with light from the CMB to leave a set of characteristic hot and cold spots. If detected, such signatures would yield invaluable insight into the types of phase transitions that occurred when the Universe was a fraction of a second old, with drastic implications for particle physics.

The new study, published in Physical Review Letters, places the best limits available on theories that produce textures, ruling out at 95% confidence theories that produce more than six detectable textures on our sky.

Image:

A random collection of textures taken from high-resolution, supercomputer simulations. Red indicates a positive twist in the topological charge density and blue a negative twist. Credit: V. Travieso and N. Turok

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