Spectacular observational breakthroughs, particularly by the WMAP satellite, have led to a new epoch of CMB science long after its original discovery. Taking a physical approach, the authors of this volume, which was first published in 2006, probe the problem of the 'darkness' of the Universe: the origin and evolution of dark energy and matter in the cosmos. Starting with the observational background of modern cosmology, they provide an accessible review of this fascinating yet complex subject. Topics discussed include the kinetics of the electromagnetic radiation in the Universe, the ionization history of cosmic plamas, the origin of primordial perturbations in light of the inflation paradigm, and the formation of anisotropy and polarization of the CMB. This fascinating review will be valuable to advanced students and researchers in cosmology.
The authors of this book have played an important role in establishing this new 'standard model' of cosmology ... timely and authoritative ... Following a thorough and accessible introduction to the observational foundations of modern cosmology, the authors provide a comprehensive account of radiative transfer in a homogenous universe, in particular the interaction of photons with an electron plasma and the ionization history of the universe. These topics are covered in impressive depth while retaining clear physical insight. Particularly pleasing is the subsequent detailed account of the evolution of perturbations from both the Newtonian and General Relativistic viewpoints. ... The last topic naturally leads on to an excellent pedagogical chapter that forms the heart of the book, namely the physics underlying the generation of primary anisotropies in the CMB. Beginning with a wry and entertaining account of the history of this topic, the chapter goes on to describe in full detail the various important physical mechanisms for generating CMB temperature fluctuations, closing with an informative account of the dependence of the CMB temperature power spectrum on cosmological parameters. ... A novel geometric interpretation of polarization on the sphere ... a valuable summary of the results derived from the first-year WMAP satellite date is presented, which is followed by a mouth-watering chapter looking forward to what we hope to learn from the forthcoming Planck satellite, due for launch in 2008. A brief conclusions chapter rounds off what is certain to be a very widely used book, and one that should prove to be an excellent resource for anyone interested in the exciting area of CMB science.
- The Observatory
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