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Published June 20, 2014 | Published + Submitted
Journal Article Open

Detection of B-Mode Polarization at Degree Angular Scales by BICEP2


We report results from the BICEP2 experiment, a cosmic microwave background (CMB) polarimeter specifically designed to search for the signal of inflationary gravitational waves in the B-mode power spectrum around ℓ∼80. The telescope comprised a 26 cm aperture all-cold refracting optical system equipped with a focal plane of 512 antenna coupled transition edge sensor 150 GHz bolometers each with temperature sensitivity of ≈300  μK_(CMB)√s. BICEP2 observed from the South Pole for three seasons from 2010 to 2012. A low-foreground region of sky with an effective area of 380 square deg was observed to a depth of 87 nK deg in Stokes Q and U. In this paper we describe the observations, data reduction, maps, simulations, and results. We find an excess of B-mode power over the base lensed-ΛCDM expectation in the range 30<ℓ<150, inconsistent with the null hypothesis at a significance of >5σ. Through jackknife tests and simulations based on detailed calibration measurements we show that systematic contamination is much smaller than the observed excess. Cross correlating against WMAP 23 GHz maps we find that Galactic synchrotron makes a negligible contribution to the observed signal. We also examine a number of available models of polarized dust emission and find that at their default parameter values they predict power ∼(5–10)× smaller than the observed excess signal (with no significant cross-correlation with our maps). However, these models are not sufficiently constrained by external public data to exclude the possibility of dust emission bright enough to explain the entire excess signal. Cross correlating BICEP2 against 100 GHz maps from the BICEP1 experiment, the excess signal is confirmed with 3σ significance and its spectral index is found to be consistent with that of the CMB, disfavoring dust at 1.7σ. The observed B-mode power spectrum is well fit by a lensed-ΛCDM+tensor theoretical model with tensor-to-scalar ratio r=0.20^(+0.07)_(−0.05), with r=0 disfavored at 7.0σ. Accounting for the contribution of foreground, dust will shift this value downward by an amount which will be better constrained with upcoming data sets.

Additional Information

© 2014 American Physical Society. Published by the American Physical Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the published article's title, journal citation, and DOI. Received 4 April 2014; revised manuscript received 13 June 2014; published 19 June 2014. BICEP2 was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation under Grants No. ANT-0742818 and No. ANT-1044978 (Caltech and Harvard) and ANT-0742592 and ANT-1110087 (Chicago and Minnesota). The development of antenna-coupled detector technology was supported by the JPL Research and Technology Development Fund and Grants No. 06-ARPA206-0040 and No. 10-SAT10-0017 from the NASA APRA and SAT programs. The development and testing of focal planes were supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation at Caltech. Readout electronics were supported by a Canada Foundation for Innovation grant to UBC. The receiver development was supported in part by a grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation. The computations in this paper were run on the Odyssey cluster supported by the FAS Science Division Research Computing Group at Harvard University. The analysis effort at Stanford and SLAC is partially supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. Tireless administrative support was provided by Irene Coyle and Kathy Deniston. We thank the staff of the U.S. Antarctic Program and in particular the South Pole Station without whose help this research would not have been possible. We thank all those who have contributed past efforts to the BICEP–Keck Array series of experiments, including the BICEP1 and Keck Array teams. We thank all those in the astrophysics community who have contributed feedback on the public preprint of this paper, and particularly two anonymous referees for their detailed and constructive recommendations. This work would not have been possible without the late Andrew Lange, whom we sorely miss.

Attached Files

Published - PhysRevLett.112.241101.pdf

Submitted - 1403.3985v2.pdf


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