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4.2. Omegamatter

Perhaps the greatest change in cosmological prejudice in the past decade relates to the inferred total abundance of matter in the Universe. Because of the great intellectual attraction Inflation as a mechanism to solve the so-called Horizon and Flatness problems in the Universe, it is fair to say that most cosmologists, and essentially all particle theorists had implicitly assumed that the Universe is flat, and thus that the density of dark matter around galaxies and clusters of galaxies was sufficient to yield Omega = 1. Over the past decade it became more and more difficult to defend this viewpoint against an increasing number of observations that suggested this was not, in fact, the case in the Universe in which we live.

The earliest holes in this picture arose from measurements of galaxy clustering on large scales. The transition from a radiation to matter dominated universe at early times is dependent, of course, on the total abundance of matter. This transition produces a characteristic signature in the spectrum of remnant density fluctuations observed on large scales. Making the assumption that dark matter dominates on large scales, and moreover that the dark matter is cold (i.e. became non-relativistic when the temperature of the Universe was less than about a keV), fits to the two point correlation function of galaxies on large scales yielded [16, 17]:

OmegaM h = .2 - .3 (8)

Unless h was absurdly small, this would imply that OmegaM is substantially less than 1.

The second nail in the coffin arose when observations of the evolution of large scale structure as a function of redshift began to be made. Bahcall and collaborators [18] argued strongly that evidence for any large clusters at high redshift would argue strongly against a flat cold dark matter dominated universe, because in such a universe structure continues to evolve with redshift up to the present time on large scales, so that in order to be consistent with the observed structures at low redshift, far less structure should be observed at high redshift. Claims were made that an upper limit OmegaB leq 0.5 could be obtained by such analyses.

A number of authors have questioned the systematics inherent in the early claims, but it is certainly clear that there appears to be more structure at high redshift than one would naively expect in a flat matter dominated universe. Future studies of X-ray clusters, and use of the Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect to measure cluster properties should be able to yield measurements which will allow a fine-scale distinction not just between models with different overall dark matter densities, but also models with the same overall value of Omega and different equations of state for the dominant energy [19].

For the moment, however, perhaps the best overall constraint on the total density of clustered matter in the universe comes from the combination of X-Ray measurements of clusters with large hydrodynamic simulations. The idea is straightforward. A measurement of both the temperature and luminosity of the X-Rays coming from hot gas which dominates the total baryon fraction in clusters can be inverted, under the assumption of hydrostatic equilibrium of the gas in clusters, to obtain the underlying gravitational potential of these systems. In particular the ratio of baryon to total mass of these systems can be derived. Employing the constraint on the total baryon density of the Universe coming from BBN, and assuming that galaxy clusters provide a good mean estimate of the total clustered mass in the Universe, one can then arrive at an allowed range for the total mass density in the Universe [20, 21, 22]. Many of the initial systematic uncertainties in this analysis having to do with cluster modelling have now been dealt with by better observations, and better simulations ( i.e. see[23]), so that now a combination of BBN and cluster measurements yields:

OmegaM = 0.35 ± 0.1 (2sigma) (9)

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