The primordial helium abundance from updated emissivities

Erik Aver, Keith A. Olive, R. L. Porter, Evan D. Skillman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

66 Scopus citations

Abstract

Observations of metal-poor extragalactic H II regions allow the determination of the primordial helium abundance, Yp. The He I emissivities are the foundation of the model of the H II region's emission. Porter, Ferland, Storey, & Detisch (2012) have recently published updated He I emissivities based on improved photoionization cross-sections. We incorporate these new atomic data and update our recent Markov Chain Monte Carlo analysis of the dataset published by Izotov, Thuan, & Stasi'nska (2007). As before, cuts are made to promote quality and reliability, and only solutions which fit the data within 95% confidence level are used to determine the primordial He abundance. The previously qualifying dataset is almost entirely retained and with strong concordance between the physical parameters. Overall, an upward bias from the new emissivities leads to a decrease in Yp. In addition, we find a general trend to larger uncertainties in individual objects (due to changes in the emissivities) and an increased variance (due to additional objects included). From a regression to zero metallicity, we determine Y p = 0.2465 ± 0.0097, in good agreement with the BBN result, Yp = 0.2485 ± 0.0002, based on the Planck determination of the baryon density. In the future, a better understanding of why a large fraction of spectra are not well fit by the model will be crucial to achieving an increase in the precision of the primordial helium abundance determination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number017
JournalJournal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics
Volume2013
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2013

Keywords

  • big bang nucleosynthesis
  • dwarfs galaxies

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