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Initial conditions of the universe : signatures in the cosmic microwave background and baryon acoustic oscillations.

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In this thesis, we investigate the signatures of isocurvature initial conditions in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) through the temperature and polarization anisotropies, and in the large-scale structure distribution through the baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO). The first part of this thesis is a brief review of the standard cosmological model with its underlying linear cosmological perturbation theory. We supplement it with a general discussion on the initial conditions of the primordial fluctuations. In the third chapter, we review the evolution of the perturbations in the adiabatic model. We focus on the evolution of adiabatic perturbations in the photons and baryons from the epoch of initial conditions to the photon-baryon decoupling, as these determine the main features of the primary CMB anisotropies and of the baryon acoustic oscillations. The fourth chapter recalls the theory of the CMB anisotropies in the adiabatic model. We consider the perturbations from the last scattering surface and evolve them through the line of sight integral to get the adiabatic CMB power spectrum. We review the effect of different cosmological parameters on the adiabatic CMB temperature spectrum. In the fifth chapter, we investigate the observational signatures of the isocurvature perturbations in the CMB anisotropies. We first derive simple semi-analytic expressions for the evolution of the photon and baryon perturbations prior to decoupling for the four isocurvature regular modes and show that these modes excite different harmonics which couple differently to Silk damping and alter the form and evolution of acoustic waves. We study the impact of different cosmological parameters on the CMB angular power spectrum through the line of sight integral and find that the impact of the physical baryon and matter densities in isocurvature models differ the most from their effect in adiabatic models. In the last two chapters, we explore in detail the effect of allowing for small amplitude admixtures of general isocurvature perturbations in addition to the dominant adiabatic mode, and their effect on the baryon acoustic oscillations. The sixth chapter focuses on the distortion of the standard ruler distance and the degradation of dark energy constants due to the inclusion of isocurvature perturbations, while the seventh chapter discusses in more detail the sensitivity of BAO dark energy constraints to general isocurvature perturbations. We stress the role played by Silk damping on the BAO peak features in breaking the degeneracy in the peak location for the different isocurvature modes and show how more general initial conditions impact our interpretation of cosmological data in dark energy studies. We find that the inclusion of these additional isocurvature modes leads to a significant increase in the Dark Energy Task Force figure of merit when considered in conjunction with CMB data. We also show that the incorrect assumption of adiabaticity has the potential to substantially bias our estimates of the dark energy parameters. We find that the use of the large scale structure data in conjunction with CMB data significantly improves our ability to measure the contributions of different modes to the initial conditions.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville, 2012.


Cosmology., Baryon number., Theses--Applied mathematics