AAS 198th Meeting, June 2001
Session 6. The Early Universe
Display, Monday, June 4, 2001, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[6.04] Separating the Gravitational Wave and Secondary Contributions to the Curl Component of the Cosmic Microwave Background Polarization

M. H. Kesden, M. Kamionkowski (California Institute of Technology)

Inflation generically predicts a primordial background of gravitational waves which induce a curl component in the polarization of the CMB. The power spectrum of this polarization signal can in principle be used to determine the height of the inflaton potential when cosmological scales exited the horizon during inflation. However, large-scale structure between the observer and the surface of last-scattering can also induce a curl component in the CMB polarization through weak gravitational lensing and the Ostriker-Vishniac effect. We examine the extent to which a gravitational wave signal can be distinguished from these other effects, and consider the prospects for experimental observation of these phenomena in the near future.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: kesden@tapir.caltech.edu

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