Cosmic microwave background (CMB) temperature anisotropies have and will continue to revolutionize our understanding of cosmology. The recent discovery of the previously predicted acoustic peaks in the power spectrum has established a working cosmological model: a critical density universe consisting of mainly dark matter and dark energy, which formed its structure through gravitational instability from quantum fluctuations during an inflationary epoch. Future observations should test this model and measure its key cosmological parameters with unprecedented precision. The phenomenology and cosmological implications of the acoustic peaks are developed in detail. Beyond the peaks, the yet to be detected secondary anisotropies and polarization present opportunities to study the physics of inflation and the dark energy. The analysis techniques devised to extract cosmological information from voluminous CMB data sets are outlined, given their increasing importance in experimental cosmology as a whole.
Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- background radiation;
- dark matter;
- early universe;
- 52 pages, 5 figures, 5 plates