Probing the neutrino mass hierarchy with CMB weak lensing

Alex C. Hall, Anthony Challinor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

We forecast constraints on cosmological parameters with primary CMB anisotropy information and weak lensing reconstruction with a future post-Planck CMB experiment, the Cosmic Origins Explorer (COrE), using oscillation data on the neutrino mass splittings as prior information. Our MCMC simulations in flat models with a non-evolving equation-of-state of dark energy w give typical 68% upper bounds on the total neutrino mass of 0.136 eV and 0.098 eV for the inverted and normal hierarchies respectively, assuming the total summed mass is close to the minimum allowed by the oscillation data for the respective hierarchies (0.10 eV and 0.06 eV). Including information from future baryon acoustic oscillation measurements with the complete BOSS, Type 1a supernovae distance moduli from WFIRST, and a realistic prior on the Hubble constant, these upper limits shrink to 0.118 eV and 0.080 eV for the inverted and normal hierarchies, respectively. Addition of these distance priors also yields percent-level constraints on w. We find tension between our MCMC results and the results of a Fisher matrix analysis, most likely due to a strong geometric degeneracy between the total neutrino mass, the Hubble constant, and w in the unlensed CMB power spectra. If the minimal-mass, normal hierarchy were realised in nature, the inverted hierarchy should be disfavoured by the full data combination at typically greater than the 2-sigma level. For the minimal-mass inverted hierarchy, we compute the Bayes' factor between the two hierarchies for various combinations of our forecast datasets, and find that the future probes considered here should be able to provide `strong' evidence (odds ratio 12:1) for the inverted hierarchy. Finally, we consider potential biases of the other cosmological parameters from assuming the wrong hierarchy and find that all biases on the parameters are below their 1-sigma marginalised errors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1170-1184
Number of pages15
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sept 2012

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • astro-ph.CO


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