2-point anisotropies in WMAP and the Cosmic Quadrupole

Astronomy and Astrophysics – Astrophysics

Scientific paper

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11 pages, 23 figs, matches version accepted for publication in MNRAS. Additional tests with 2000 more simulations presented, i

Scientific paper


Large-scale modes in the temperature anisotropy power spectrum C_l measured by the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), seem to have lower amplitudes (C_2, C_3 and C_4) than that expected in the so called concordance LCDM model. In particular, the quadrupole C_2 is reported to have a smaller value than allowed by cosmic variance. This has been interpreted as a possible indication of new physics. In this paper we re-analyse the WMAP data using the 2-point angular correlation and its higher-order moments. This method, which requires a full covariance analysis, is more direct and provides better sampling of the largest modes than the standard harmonic decomposition. We show that the WMAP data is in good agreement (~ 30% probability) with a LCDM model when the WMAP data is considered as a particular realization drawn from a set of realistic LCDM simulations with the corresponding covariance. This is also true for the higher-order moments, shown here up to 6th order, which are consistent with the Gaussian hypothesis. The sky mask plays a major role in assessing the significance of these agreements. We recover the best fit model for the low-order multipoles based on the 2-point correlation with different assumptions for the covariance. Assuming that the observations are a fair sample of the true model, we find C_2 = 123 +/- 233, C_3= 217 +/- 241 and C_4 = 212 +/- 162 (in mu K^2). The errors increase by about a factor of 5 if we assume the \lcdm model. If we exclude the Galactic plane |b|<30 from our analysis, we recover very similar values within the errors (ie C_2=172, C_3= 89, C_4=129). This indicates that the Galactic plane is not responsible for the lack of large-scale power in the WMAP data.

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