Primordial nucleosynthesis: Theory and observations

Keith A. Olive, Gary Steigman, Terry P. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

371 Scopus citations


We review the cosmology and physics underlying Primordial Nucleosynthesis and survey current observational data in order to compare the predictions of Big Bang Nucleosynthesis with the inferred primordial abundances. From this comparison we report on the status of the consistency of the standard hot big bang model, we constrain the universal density of baryons (nucleons), and we set limits to the numbers and/or effective interactions of hypothetical new "light" particles (equivalent massless neutrinos).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-407
Number of pages19
JournalPhysics Report
Issue number4-6
StatePublished - Aug 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dave Schramm's impact on the field of BBN and on the lives of the authors is reflected in and between almost every line of this review. The astroparticle connection championed by Dave depends crucially on BBN and we are delighted to report in this, his Memorial Volume, that BBN remains the fundamental interface between particle physics and cosmology. We can think of few things that would have made him happier. In addition to Dave, we would like to thank our many collaborators on BBN over the years: J. Audouze, T. Beers, S. Bludman, B.A. Campbell, M. Casse, C. Chiappini, C. Copi, D.S.P. Dearborn, J.E. Felten, B.D. Fields, R. Gruenwald, J. Gunn, N. Hata, C.J. Hogan, K. Kainulainen, H.-S. Kang, L. Kawano, M. Kawasaki, P.J. Kernan, E.W. Kolb, H. Kurki-Suonio, P. Langacker, G.J. Mathews, F. Matteucci, R.A. Matzner, B.S. Meyer, V.K. Naranyanan, J. Norris, M.J. Perry, M.H. Pinsonneault, R. Ramaty, R. Rood, S. Ryan, R.J. Scherrer, S. Scully, E. Skillman, F.K. Thielemann, D. Thomas, B.M. Tinsley, M. Tosi, J.W. Truran, M.S. Turner, E. Vangioni-Flam, S.M. Viegas, J. Yang. The work of K.O. was supported in part by DOE grant DE-FG02-94ER-40823 at the University of Minnesota. The work of G.S. and T.W. was supported in part by DOE grant DE-AC02-76ER-01545 at the Ohio State University.


  • 26.35.+c
  • 98.80. - k
  • 98.80.Ft
  • Abundances
  • Cosmology
  • Nucleosynthesis


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