AAS 204th Meeting, June 2004
Session 42 Cosmology and Lensing
Poster, Tuesday, June 1, 2004, 10:00am-7:00pm, Ballroom

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[42.02] The Three-Point Correlation Function of Galactic Dust: Implications for Microwave Background non-Gaussianity

M. McCann, E.F. Bunn, R. Chan, V. Kasliwal (University of Richmond)

A major question regarding temperature fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) is whether or not they obey Gaussian statistics (i.e., whether they contain any additional information beyond that contained in the power spectrum). Inflation theory predicts that the CMB is Gaussian; future experiments will test this prediction. Dust contamination will likely be a problem for these tests, and could bias the results, as dust is known to be highly non-Gaussian. The three-point correlation function is one method of testing for non-Gaussianity, and it does not appear to be strongly affected by low levels of dust contamination. We calculate the three-point function for simulated sky maps containing mixtures of Gaussian CMB fluctuations and dust, and use a chi-squared statistic to determine whether the maps can be distinguished from purely Gaussian maps. The three-point function distinguishes between Gaussian and non-Gaussian maps over 90% of the time for pure dust maps and about 40% of the time for maps consisting of 25% dust and 75% Gaussian structure.

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