The Thomson optical depth from reionization is a limiting factor in measuring the amplitude of primordial fluctuations, and hence in measuring physics that affects the low-redshift amplitude, such as the neutrino masses. Current constraints on the optical depth, based on directly measuring large-scale cosmic microwave background (CMB) polarization, are challenging due to foregrounds and systematic effects. Here, we consider an indirect measurement of large-scale polarization, using observed maps of small-scale polarization together with maps of fields that distort the CMB, such as CMB lensing and patchy reionization. We find that very futuristic CMB surveys will be able to reconstruct large-scale polarization, and thus the mean optical depth, using only measurements on small scales.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)