Journal Article

The axis of evil – a polarization perspective

M. Frommert and T. A. Enßlin

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 403, issue 4, pages 1739-1748
Published in print April 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online April 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2010.16255.x
The axis of evil – a polarization perspective

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We search for an unusual alignment of the preferred axes of the quadrupole and octopole, the so-called axis of evil, in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) temperature and polarization data from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe. We use the part of the polarization map which is uncorrelated with the temperature map as a statistically independent probe of the axis of evil, which helps to assess whether the latter has a cosmological origin or if it is a mere chance fluctuation in the temperature. Note, though, that for certain models creating a preferred axis in the temperature map, we would not expect to see the axis in the uncorrelated polarization map. We find that the axis of the quadrupole of the uncorrelated polarization map roughly aligns with the axis of evil within our measurement precision, whereas the axis of the octopole does not. However, with our measurement uncertainty, the probability of such a scenario to happen by chance in an isotropic universe is of the order of 50 per cent. We also find that the so-called cold spot present in the CMB temperature map is even colder in the part of the temperature map which is uncorrelated with the polarization, although there is still a large uncertainty in the latter. Therefore, our analysis of the axis of evil and a future analysis of the cold spot in the uncorrelated temperature data will strongly benefit from the polarization data expected from the Planck satellite.

Keywords: cosmic microwave background

Journal Article.  6344 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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