Max Tegmark's library: gaussianity

Location of non-Gaussian features
Figure 1: If you remove these five COBE DMR pixels, the non-Gaussianity detection is no longer statistically significant

Please click here to get the postscript file with the paper. Here's a viewgraph with fig 1 (color) - you can also click on the image above. Click here if you are interested in other research of mine. 

Is the cosmic microwave background really non-Gaussian?


Ben Bromley & Max Tegmark


Two recent papers have claimed detection of non-Gaussian features in the COBE DMR sky maps of the cosmic microwave background. We confirm these results, but argue that Gaussianity is still not convincingly ruled out. Since a score of non-Gaussianity tests have now been published, one might expect some mildly significant results even by chance. Moreover, in the case of one measure which yields a detection, a bispectrum statistic, we find that if the non-Gaussian feature is real, it may well be due to detector noise rather than a non-Gaussian sky signal, since a signal-to-noise analysis localizes it to angular scales smaller than the beam. We study its spatial origin in case it is nonetheless due to a sky signal (eg, a cosmic string wake or flat-spectrum foreground contaminant). It appears highly localized in the direction b=39.5, l=257, since removing a mere 5 pixels inside a single COBE beam area centered there makes the effect statistically insignificant. We also test Guassianity with an eigenmode analysis which allows a sky map to be treated as a random number generator. A battery of tests of this generator all yield results consistent with Gaussianity.

Reference info:

astro-ph/9904254, published in ApJL


We got inpired to write this paper by two reported detections of non-Gaussianity: Ferreira, Magueijo & Gorski (1998) and Pando, Valls-Gabaud & Fang (1998) .

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This page was last modified July 17, 2000.