Indexed on: 20 May '14Published on: 20 May '14Published in: Physical review letters
Scaling networks of cosmic defects, such as strings and textures, actively generate scalar, vector, and tensor metric perturbations throughout the history of the Universe. In particular, vector modes sourced by defects are an efficient source of the cosmic microwave background B-mode polarization. We use the recently released BICEP2 and POLARBEAR B-mode polarization spectra to constrain properties of a wide range of different types of cosmic strings networks. We find that in order for strings to provide a satisfactory fit on their own, the effective interstring distance needs to be extremely large--spectra that fit the data best are more representative of global strings and textures. When a local string contribution is considered together with the inflationary B-mode spectrum, the fit is improved. We discuss implications of these results for theories that predict cosmic defects.