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First constraint on the neutrino-induced phase shift in the spectrum of baryon acoustic oscillations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Daniel Baumann
  • Florian Beutler
  • Raphael Flauger
  • Daniel Green
  • Anže Slosar
  • Mariana Vargas-Magaña
  • Benjamin Wallisch
  • Christophe Yèche

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-469
Number of pages5
JournalNature Physics
Issue number5
Early online date25 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


The existence of the cosmic neutrino background is a robust prediction of the hot big bang model. These neutrinos were a dominant component of the energy density in the early Universe and therefore played an important role in the evolution of cosmological perturbations. The energy density of the cosmic neutrino background has been measured using the abundances of light elements and the anisotropies of the cosmic microwave background. A complementary and more robust probe is provided by a distinct shift in the temporal phase of sound waves in the primordial plasma that is produced by fluctuations in the neutrino density. Here, we report on the first constraint on this neutrino-induced phase shift in the spectrum of baryon acoustic oscillations of the BOSS DR12 data. Constraining the acoustic scale using Planck data while marginalizing over the effects of neutrinos in the cosmic microwave background, we find a non-zero phase shift at greater than 95% confidence. Besides providing a new test of the cosmic neutrino background, our work is the first application of the baryon acoustic oscillation signal to early Universe physics.

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