Cosmic variance of the spectral index from mode coupling

Joseph Bramante, Jason Kumar, Elliot Nelson, Sarah Shandera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


We demonstrate that local, scale-dependent non-Gaussianity can generate cosmic variance uncertainty in the observed spectral index of primordial curvature perturbations. In a universe much larger than our current Hubble volume, locally unobservable long wavelength modes can induce a scale-dependence in the power spectrum of typical subvolumes, so that the observed spectral index varies at a cosmologically significant level (|Δns| ∼ (0.04)). Similarly, we show that the observed bispectrum can have an induced scale dependence that varies about the global shape. If tensor modes are coupled to long wavelength modes of a second field, the locally observed tensor power and spectral index can also vary. All of these effects, which can be introduced in models where the observed non-Gaussianity is consistent with bounds from the Planck satellite, loosen the constraints that observations place on the parameters of theories of inflation with mode coupling. We suggest observational constraints that future measurements could aim for to close this window of cosmic variance uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number021
JournalJournal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics


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