Acoustic signatures in the primary microwave background bispectrum

Eiichiro Komatsu, David N. Spergel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


If the primordial fluctuations are non-Gaussian, then this non-Gaussianity will be apparent in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) sky. With their sensitive all-sky observation, MAP and Planck satellites should be able to detect weak non-Gaussianity in the CMB sky. On a large angular scale, there is a simple relationship between the CMB temperature and the primordial curvature perturbation: A7V7= -fIV3. On smaller scales, however, the radiation transfer function becomes more complex. In this paper, we present the angular bispectrum of the primary CMB anisotropy that uses the full transfer function. We find that the bispectrum has a series of acoustic peaks that change a sign and a period of acoustic oscillations is twice as long as that of the angular power spectrum. Using a single non-linear coupling parameter to characterize the amplitude of the bispectrum, we estimate the expected signal-to-noise ratio for COBE, MAP, and Planck experiments. In order to detect the primary CMB bispectrum by each experiment, we find that the coupling parameter should be larger than 600, 20, and 5 for COBE, MAP, and Planck experiments, respectively. Even for the ideal noise-free and infinitesimal thin-beam experiment, the parameter should be larger than 3. We have included effects from the cosmic variance, detector noise, and foreground sources in the signal-to-noise estimation. Since the simple inflationary scenarios predict that the parameter is an order of 0.01, the detection of the primary bispectrum by any kind of experiments should be problematic for those scenarios. We compare the sensitivity of the primary bispectrum to the primary skewness and conclude that, when we can compute the predicted form of the bispectrum, it becomes a matched filter for detecting the non-Gaussianity in the data and a much more powerful tool than the skewness. For example, we need the coupling parameter of larger than 800, 80, 70, and 60 for each relevant experiment in order to detect the primary skewness. We also show that MAP and Planck can separate the primary bispectrum from various secondary bispectra on the basis of the shape difference. The primary CMB bispectrum is a test of the inflationary scenario and also a probe of the non-linear physics in the very early universe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number063002
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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