Space Science Reviews

, Volume 84, Issue 1–2, pp 3–14 | Cite as

Big Bang Nucleosynthesis and the Density of Baryons in the Universe

  • D.N. Schramm


Now that extragalactic deuterium observations are being made, Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN) is on the verge of undergoing a transformation. Previously, the emphasis was on demonstrating the concordance of the Big Bang Nucleosynthesis model with the abundances of the light isotopes extrapolated back to their primordial values using stellar and Galactic evolution theories. Once the primordial deuterium abundance is converged upon, the nature of the field will shift to using the much more precise primordial D/H to constrain the more flexible stellar and Galactic evolution models (although the question of potential systematic error in 4He abundance determinations remains open). The remarkable success of the theory to date in establishing the concordance has led to the very robust conclusion of BBN regarding the baryon density. The BBN constraints on the cosmological baryon density are reviewed and demonstrate that the bulk of the baryons are dark and also that the bulk of the matter in the universe is non-baryonic. Comparison of baryonic density arguments from Lyman-α clouds, x-ray gas in clusters, and the microwave anisotropy are made and shown to be consistent with the BBN value.

Cosmology Nucleosynthesis Light Elements 


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • D.N. Schramm
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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