Bayesian analysis of the polarization of distant radio sources: Limits on cosmological birefringence
Abstract
A recent study of the rotation of the plane of polarization of light from 160 cosmological sources claims to find significant evidence for cosmological anisotropy. We point out methodological weaknesses of that study, and reanalyze the same data using Bayesian methods that overcome these problems. We find that the data always favor isotropic models for the distribution of observed polarizations over counterparts that have a cosmological anisotropy of the type advocated in the earlier study. Although anisotropic models are not completely ruled out, the data put strong lower limits on the length scale λ (in units of the Hubble length) associated with the anisotropy; the lower limits of 95% credible regions for λ lie between 0.43 and 0.62 in all anisotropic models we studied, values several times larger than the bestfit value of λ~0.1 found in the earlier study. The length scale is not constrained from above. The vast majority of sources in the data are at distances closer than 0.4 Hubble lengths (corresponding to a redshift of ~0.8) the results are thus consistent with there being no significant anisotropy on the length scale probed by these data.
 Publication:

Physical Review D
 Pub Date:
 December 1997
 DOI:
 10.1103/PhysRevD.56.7507
 arXiv:
 arXiv:astroph/9706258
 Bibcode:
 1997PhRvD..56.7507L
 Keywords:

 98.80.Es;
 02.50.Ph;
 41.20.Jb;
 Observational cosmology;
 Electromagnetic wave propagation;
 radiowave propagation;
 Astrophysics;
 Physics  Data Analysis;
 Statistics and Probability
 EPrint:
 8 pages, 3 figures