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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Robustness of cosmic birefringence measurement against Galactic foreground emission and instrumental systematics


The polarization of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) can be used to search for parity-violating processes like that predicted by a Chern-Simons coupling to a light pseudoscalar field. Such an interaction rotates E modes into E modes in the observed CMB signal through an effect known as cosmic birefringence. Even though isotropic birefringence can be confused with the rotation produced by a miscalibration of the detectors' polarization angles, the degeneracy between both effects is broken when Galactic foreground emission is used as a calibrator. In this work, we use realistic simulations of the High-Frequency Instrument of the Planck mission to test the impact that Galactic foreground emission and instrumental systematics have on the recent birefringence measurements obtained through this technique. Our results demonstrate the robustness of the methodology against the miscalibration of polarization angles and other systematic effects, like intensity-to-polarization leakage, beam leakage, or cross-polarization effects. However, our estimator is sensitive to the EB correlation of polarized foreground emission. Here we propose to correct the bias induced by dust EB by modeling the foreground signal with templates produced in Bayesian component-separation analyses that fit parametric models to CMB data. Acknowledging the limitations of currently available dust templates like that of the Commander sky model, high-precision CMB data and a characterization of dust beyond the modified blackbody paradigm are needed to obtain a definitive measurement of cosmic birefringence in the future.

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