For Further Study

These pages represent the first step in a series of tutorials designed to describe the theory of the cosmic microwave background. Those interested in continuing the program should go on to:

Exploration of Sound Waves in the CMB


A more in depth on line tour of CMB physics.

We have not covered here the recent developments on the experimental side in any quantitative detail. A quick summary for those familiar with microwave background literature can be found here:

CMB experiments and data

and a description of the process of analyzing experiments can be found at Max Tegmark's site.

We have described how the microwave background can tell us about the origins and fate of the universe. Further details on cosmological parameters that can be extracted from the CMB can be found in

Cosmological parameters in the CMB spectrum

and is aimed at those familiar with the literature.

The microwave background carries information not only in its temperature fluctuations but also in its polarization. Polarization detection represents a much greater experimental challenge but with a potential pay off of cosmological information that cannot be extracted from the temperature spectrum. For those familiar with temperature anisotropies, the following is a pedagogical introduction to polarization:

The promise of polarization

At an advanced level, the following pages give a detailed description of how microwave background anisotropies are calculated and interpreted:

Total Angular Momentum Method

For researchers in the field, my papers on the microwave background are all available on this Web site:

Technical Papers

A great wealth of material on the microwave background is available on the Web. Here is a short list of links to other potentially interesting sites.

Interesting related sites

I would like to thank A. Vatanatumrak for help in designing the graphics on these pages and E. Bunn for supplying the COBE and earth maps.