Model-Independent Constraints on Inflation from the CMB
University of Chicago
I introduce a general method for constraining the shape of the inflationary potential from Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) temperature and polarization power spectra. This approach relates the CMB observables to the shape of the inflaton potential via a single source function that is responsible for the observable features in the initial curvature power spectrum. The source function is, to an excellent approximation, simply related to the slope and curvature of the inflaton potential, even in the presence of large or rapidly changing deviations from scale-free initial conditions. Oscillatory features in the WMAP temperature power spectrum have led to interest in exploring models with features in the inflationary potential, but such cases are typically studied on a case-by-case basis. This formalism generalizes previous studies by exploring the complete parameter space of inflationary models in a single analysis. I will present results from a Markov Chain Monte Carlo likelihood analysis of WMAP 7-year and other data sets that probe the inflationary potential both at large and small scales, and I will discuss constraints from upcoming high-sensitivity experiments.
Date: Friday, 7 January 2011 Time: 12:00 Where: McGill University Ernest Rutherford Physics Building, R.E. Bell Conference Room (room 103) Contact: Robert Rutledge