Seeking inflation fossils in the cosmic microwave background

Liang Dai, Donghui Jeong, Marc Kamionkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


If during inflation the inflaton couples to a "fossil" field - some new scalar, vector, or tensor field - it typically induces a scalar-scalar-fossil bispectrum. Even if the fossil field leaves no direct physical trace after inflation, it gives rise to correlations between different Fourier modes of the curvature or, equivalently, a nonzero curvature trispectrum, but without a curvature bispectrum. Here we quantify the effects of a fossil field on the cosmic microwave background temperature fluctuations in terms of bipolar spherical harmonics (BiPoSHs). The effects of vector and tensor fossils can be distinguished geometrically from those of scalars through the parity of the BiPoSHs they induce. However, the two-dimensional nature of the cosmic microwave background sky does not allow vectors to be distinguished geometrically from tensors. We estimate the detectability of a signal in terms of the scalar-scalar-fossil coupling for scalar, vector, and tensor fossils, assuming a local-type coupling. We comment on a divergence that arises in the quadrupolar BiPoSH from the scalar-scalar-tensor correlation in single-field slow-roll inflation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103006
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 10 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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