We show that three-dimensional information is critical to discerning the effects of parity violation in the primordial gravity-wave background. Helical gravity waves would induce parity-violating correlations in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) between parity-odd polarization $B$-modes and parity-even temperature anisotropies ($T$) or polarization $E$-modes. Unfortunately, $EB$ correlations are much weaker than would be naively expected, which we show is due to an approximate symmetry resulting from the two-dimensional nature of the CMB. The detectability of parity-violating correlations is exacerbated by the fact that the handedness of individual modes cannot be discerned in the two-dimensional CMB, leading to a noise contribution from scalar matter perturbations. In contrast, the tidal imprints of primordial gravity waves fossilized into the large-scale structure of the Universe will provide a three-dimensional probe of parity violation. Using such fossils the handedness of gravity waves may be determined on a mode-by-mode basis, permitting future surveys to probe helicity at the percent level if the amplitude of primordial gravity waves is near current observational upper limits.
K. Masui, U. Pen and N. Turok
Thu, 23 Feb 17
Comments: 6 pages, 1 figure + 4 page supplement. To be submitted to PRL