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Published November 19, 2003 | Published
Journal Article Open

Spatial variation of the fine-structure parameter and the cosmic microwave background


We study the effects on cosmic microwave background (CMB) temperature and polarization anisotropies of spatial fluctuations of the fine-structure parameter between causally disconnected regions of the Universe at the time of recombination. Analogous to weak gravitational lensing, in addition to modifying the mean power spectra and inducing a curl component (B mode) to the polarization, spatial fluctuations of the fine-structure parameter induce higher-order (non-Gaussian) temperature and polarization correlations in the CMB. We calculate these effects for the general case of arbitrary correlation between temperature fluctuations and fine-structure parameter fluctuations, and show the results for a model where these two types of fluctuations are uncorrelated. The formalism we present here may also be applied to other modifications of recombination physics that do not significantly alter the evolution of the dominant density perturbations. We discuss the constraints on the effective Lagrangian for the variable fine-structure parameter necessary to realize this scenario.

Additional Information

© 2003 The American Physical Society. Received 19 June 2003; published 19 November 2003. We thank A. Cooray and M. Wise for useful discussions, and A. Cooray and M. Kesden for providing the results of their weak-lensing kurtosis calculations for comparison. K.S. acknowledges the support of the Canadian NSERC. This work was supported in part by NASA NAG5-9821, DOE DE-FG03-92-ER40701 and DE-FG03-02ER41215, and NSF PHY00-71856.

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