Kinematic Sunyaev-Zel'dovich Effect with Projected Fields: A Novel Probe of the Baryon Distribution with Planck, WMAP, and WISE Data

J. Colin Hill, Simone Ferraro, Nick Battaglia, Jia Liu, David N. Spergel

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107 Scopus citations


The kinematic Sunyaev-Zel'dovich (KSZ) effect - the Doppler boosting of cosmic microwave background (CMB) photons due to Compton scattering off free electrons with nonzero bulk velocity - probes the abundance and the distribution of baryons in the Universe. All KSZ measurements to date have explicitly required spectroscopic redshifts. Here, we implement a novel estimator for the KSZ - large-scale structure cross-correlation based on projected fields: it does not require redshift estimates for individual objects, allowing KSZ measurements from large-scale imaging surveys. We apply this estimator to cleaned CMB temperature maps constructed from Planck and WMAP data and a galaxy sample from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). We measure the KSZ effect at 3.8σ-4.5σ significance, depending on the use of additional WISE galaxy bias constraints. We verify that our measurements are robust to possible dust emission from the WISE galaxies. Assuming the standard Λ cold dark matter cosmology, we directly constrain (fb/0.158)(ffree/1.0)=1.48±0.19 (statistical error only) at redshift z≈0.4, where fb is the fraction of matter in baryonic form and ffree is the free electron fraction. This is the tightest KSZ-derived constraint reported to date on these parameters. Astronomers have long known that baryons do not trace dark matter on ∼ kiloparsec scales and there has been strong evidence that galaxies are baryon poor. The consistency between the fb value found here and the values inferred from analyses of the primordial CMB and big bang nucleosynthesis verifies that baryons approximately trace the dark matter distribution down to ∼ megaparsec scales. While our projected-field estimator is already competitive with other KSZ approaches when applied to current data sets (because we are able to use the full-sky WISE photometric survey), it will yield enormous signal-to-noise ratios when applied to upcoming high-resolution, multifrequency CMB surveys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number051301
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 28 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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