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Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto

WMAP constraints on varying α and the promise of reionization

C. J. A. P. Martins, A. Melchiorri, G. Rocha, R. Trotta, P. P. Avelino, P. T. P. Viana

We present up-to-date constraints on the value of the fine-structure constant at the epoch of decoupling from the recent observations made by the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) satellite. In the framework of models we considered, a positive (negative) variation of the value of α at decoupling with respect to the present-day value is now bounded to be smaller than 2% (6%) at 95% confidence level. We point out that the existence of an early reionization epoch as suggested by the above measurements will, when more accurate cosmic microwave background polarization data is available, lead to considerably tighter constraints. The so-called ‘reionization bump’, in particular, will be extremely useful for this purpose. We find that the tightest possible constraint on α is about 0.1% using CMB data alone—tighter constraints will require further (non-CMB) priors.

Author Keywords: Cosmology; Cosmic microwave background; Fine-structure constant; Reionization

Physics Letters B
Volume 585, Page 29
February 2004

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