Tensors, BICEP2 results, prior dependence, and dust

Marina Cortes*, Andrew R. Liddle, David Parkinson

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract / Description of output

We investigate the prior dependence on the inferred spectrum of primordial tensor perturbations, in light of recent results from BICEP2 and taking into account a possible dust contribution to polarized anisotropies. We highlight an optimized parametrization of the tensor power spectrum, and adoption of a logarithmic prior on its amplitude A(T), leading to results that transform more evenly under change of pivot scale. In the absence of foregrounds the tension between the results of BICEP2 and Planck drives the tensor spectral index n(T) to be blue tilted in a joint analysis, which would be in contradiction to the standard inflation prediction (n(T) <0). When foregrounds are accounted for, the BICEP2 results no longer require nonstandard inflationary parameter regions. We present limits on primordial A(T) and n(T), adopting foreground scenarios put forward by Mortonson and Seljak and motivated by Planck 353 GHz observations, and assess what dust contribution leaves a detectable cosmological signal. We find that if there is sufficient dust for the signal to be compatible with standard inflation, then the primordial signal is too weak to be robustly detected by BICEP2 if Planck + WMAP upper limits from temperature and E-mode polarization are correct.

Original languageEnglish
Article number063511
Number of pages10
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sept 2015

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