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Published March 17, 1997 | Published
Journal Article Open

A Probe of Primordial Gravity Waves and Vorticity


A formalism for describing an all-sky map of the polarization of the cosmic microwave background is presented. The polarization pattern on the sky can be decomposed into two geometrically distinct components. One of these components is not coupled to density inhomogeneities. A nonzero amplitude for this component of polarization can only be caused by tensor or vector metric perturbations. This allows unambiguous identification of long-wavelength gravity waves or large-scale vortical flows at the time of last scattering.

Additional Information

© 1997 The American Physical Society Received 19 September 1996 During the preparation of this paper, we became aware of similar work by Seljak and Zaldarriaga [18]. We thank G. Jungman and U. Seljak for helpful discussions. This work was supported by D.O.E. Contract No. DEFG02-92-ER40699, NASA NAG5-3091, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation at Columbia, NASA AST94-19400 at FNAL, and the Harvard Society of Fellows. M.K. acknowledges the hospitality of the NASA/Fermilab Astrophysics Center and the CERN Theory Group. A.S. acknowledges the hospitality of the Aspen Center for Physics and the support of the NASA Grant No. NAG 5-2788.

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