Abstract: The combination of seven-year data from WMAP and improved astrophysical data rigorously tests the standard cosmological model and places new constraints on its basic parameters and extensions. By combining the WMAP data with the latest distance measurements from the baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO) in the distribution of galaxies and the Hubble constant (H0) measurement, we determine the parameters of the simplest six-parameter ΛCDM model. The power-law index of the primordial power spectrum is ns = 0.968 ± 0.012 (68% CL) for this data combination, a measurement that excludes the Harrison–Zel’dovich–Peebles spectrum by 99.5% CL. The other parameters, including those beyond the minimal set, are also consistent with, and improved from, the five-year results. We find no convincing deviations from the minimal model. The seven-year temperature power spectrum gives a better determination of the third acoustic peak, which results in a better determination of the redshift of the matter-radiation equality epoch. Notable examples of improved parameters are the total mass of neutrinos, � mν < 0.58 eV (95% CL), and the effective number of neutrino species, Neff = 4.34 +0.86 −0.88 (68% CL), which benefit from better determinations of the third peak and H0. The limit on a constant dark energy equation of state parameter from WMAP+BAO+H0, without high-redshift Type Ia supernovae, is w =− 1.10 ± 0.14 (68% CL). We detect the effect of primordial helium on the temperature power spectrum and provide a new test of big bang nucleosynthesis by measuring Yp = 0.326 ± 0.075 (68% CL). We detect, and show on the map for the first time, the tangential and radial polarization patterns around hot and cold spots of temperature fluctuations, an important test of physical processes at z = 1090 and the dominance of adiabatic scalar fluctuations. The seven-year polarization data have significantly improved: we now detect the temperature–E-mode polarization cross power spectrum at 21σ , compared with 13σ from the five-year data. With the seven-year temperature–B-mode cross power spectrum, the limit on a rotation of the polarization plane due to potential parity-violating effects has improved by 38% to Δα =− 1. 1 ± 1. 4(statistical) ± 1. 5(systematic) (68% CL). We report significant detections of the Sunyaev–Zel’dovich (SZ) effect at the locations of known clusters of galaxies. The measured SZ signal agrees well with the expected signal from the X-ray data on a cluster-by-cluster basis. However, it is a factor of 0.5–0.7 times the predictions from “universal profile” of Arnaud et al., analytical models, and hydrodynamical simulations. We find, for the first time in the SZ effect, a significant difference between the cooling-flow and non-cooling-flow clusters (or relaxed and non-relaxed clusters), which can explain some of the discrepancy. This lower amplitude is consistent with the lower-than-theoretically expected SZ power spectrum recently measured by the South Pole Telescope Collaboration.
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