We present a new upper limit on cosmic microwave background (CMB) circular polarization from the 2015 flight of Spider, a balloon-borne telescope designed to search for B-mode linear polarization from cosmic inflation. Although the level of circular polarization in the CMB is predicted to be very small, experimental limits provide a valuable test of the underlying models. By exploiting the nonzero circular-to-linear polarization coupling of the half-wave plate polarization modulators, data from Spider's 2015 Antarctic flight provide a constraint on Stokes V at 95 and 150 GHz in the range 33 < ℓ < 307. No other limits exist over this full range of angular scales, and Spider improves on the previous limit by several orders of magnitude, providing 95% C.L. constraints on ℓ( ℓ+1)Ct δV/2π ranging from 141 to 255 μK2 at 150 GHz for a thermal CMB spectrum. As linear CMB polarization experiments become increasingly sensitive, the techniques described in this paper can be applied to obtain even stronger constraints on circular polarization.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science
- cosmic background radiation