Next Contents Previous

7.1. The parameters

The initial goal of structure formation studies is to accurately determine the fundamental parameters describing our Universe. So far I've stressed the three inflationary parameters, deltaH, n and r, which describe the initial perturbations which inflation generates. However, except on very large scales where they remain untouched by causal processes, we do not see the original perturbations but rather than perturbations after they have been processed by a variety of physical mechanisms. This processing depends on many quantities, all of which must be either fixed by assumption or determined from observations. A basic list features four categories; the global dynamics, the way in which the matter content is divided amongst the different particle species, astrophysics effects such as reionization which would affect the microwave background photons, and the initial perturbation spectrum that we are here assuming comes from inflation. A possible list might look like this

  1. Global dynamics
    Hubble constant h *
    Spatial curvature k

  2. Matter content
    Baryons OmegaB *
    Hot dark matter? OmegaHDM
    Cosmological constant? Lambda (*)
    Massless species? g*

  3. Astrophysics
    Reionization optical depth tau *

  4. Initial perturbations
    Amplitude deltaH(k = a0H0) *
    Spectral index n *
    Gravitational waves r

A cold dark matter contribution is not mentioned under matter content as it is assumed to take the value required to make the sums add up (i.e. to give the right spatial curvature k given the other matter densities).

In this list, I've starred those parameters which need to be included in even the most minimal model, while the rest can be set to some particular value by assumption. I've partially starred the cosmological constant because although most people would like to set it to zero, the observational case for a non-zero value is near to overwhelming.

Next Contents Previous