Deuterium and the baryonic density of the universe

Tytler, D, O'Meara JM, Suzuki N, Lubin D.  2000.  Deuterium and the baryonic density of the universe. Physics Reports-Review Section of Physics Letters. 333:409-432.

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abundances, alpha forest, big bang nucleosynthesis, big-bang nucleosynthesis, cosmology, d/h ratio, high-resolution, light-elements, local interstellar-medium, primordial nucleosynthesis, radiative decay, to-hydrogen ratio, x-ray-clusters


Big bang nucleosynthesis (BBN) is the creation of the light nuclei, deuterium, He-3, He-4 and Li-7 during the first few minutes of the universe. Here we discuss recent measurements of the D to H abundance ratio, D/H, in our galaxy and towards quasars. We have achieved an order of magnitude improvement in the precision of the measurement of primordial D/H, using the HIRES spectrograph on the W. M. Keck telescope to measure D in gas with very nearly primordial abundances towards quasars. From 1994 to 1996, it appeared that there could be a factor of 10 range in primordial D/H, but today four examples of low D are secure. High D/H should be much easier to detect, and since there are no convincing examples, it must be extremely rare or non-existent. All data are consistent with a single low value for D/H, and the examples which are consistent with high D/H are readily interpreted as H contamination near the position of D. The new D/H measurements give the most accurate value for the baryon-to-photon ratio, eta, and hence the cosmological baryon density. A similar density is required to explain the amount of Ly alpha absorption from neutral hydrogen in the intergalactic medium (IGM) at redshift z similar or equal to 3, and to explain the fraction of baryons in local clusters of galaxies. The D/H measurements lead to predictions for the abundances of the other light nuclei, which generally agree with measurements. The remaining differences with some measurements can be explained by a combination of measurement and analysis errors or changes in the abundances after BBN. The measurements do not require physics beyond the standard BBN model. Instead, the agreement between the abundances is used to limit the non-standard physics. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.