CMB cold spot

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from WMAP cold spot)
Jump to: navigation, search
Circled area is the cold spot.

The CMB Cold Spot or WMAP Cold Spot is a region of the sky seen in microwaves that has been found to be unusually large and cold relative to the expected properties of the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB). The "cold spot" is approximately 70 µK colder than the average CMB temperature (approximately 2.7 K), whereas the root mean square of typical temperature variations is only 18 µK.[1][note 1] At some points, the "cold spot" deviates 140 µK colder than the average CMB temperature.[2]

The radius of the "cold spot" subtends about 5°; it is centered at the galactic coordinate lII = 207.8°, bII = −56.3° (equatorial: α = 03h 15m 05s, δ = −19° 35′ 02″). It is, therefore, in the Southern Celestial Hemisphere, in the direction of the constellation Eridanus.

Typically, the largest fluctuations of the primordial CMB temperature occur on angular scales of about 1°. Thus a cold region as large as the "cold spot" appears very unlikely, given generally accepted theoretical models. Various alternative explanations exist, including a so-called Eridanus Supervoid or Great Void. This would be an extremely large region of the universe, roughly 150 to 300 Mpc or 500 million to one billion light-years across and 6 to 10 billion light years away,[3] at redshift , containing a density of matter much smaller than the average density at that redshift.[citation needed] Such a void would affect the observed CMB via the integrated Sachs–Wolfe effect. If a comparable supervoid did exist, it would be one of the largest structures in the observable universe.

A study published in 2015 shows the most likely explanation for the CMB cold spot is the supervoid one (see below).[4]

Discovery and significance[edit]

In the first year of data recorded by the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) a region of sky in the constellation Eridanus was found to be cooler than the surrounding area.[5] Subsequently, using the data gathered by WMAP over 3 years, the statistical significance of such a large, cool region was estimated. The probability of finding a deviation at least as high in Gaussian simulations was found to be 1.85%.[6] Thus it appears unlikely, but not impossible, that the cold spot was generated by the standard mechanism of quantum fluctuations during cosmological inflation, which in most inflationary models gives rise to Gaussian statistics. The cold spot may also, as suggested in the references above, be a signal of non-Gaussian primordial fluctuations.

Some authors called into question the statistical significance of this cold spot.[7]

In 2013 the CMB Cold Spot was also observed by the Planck satellite[8] at similar significance, discarding the possibility of being caused by a systematic error of the WMAP satellite.

Possible causes other than primordial temperature fluctuation[edit]

The large 'cold spot' forms part of what has been called an 'axis of evil' (so named because it is unanticipated to see structure).[9]


The mean ISW imprint 50 supervoids have on the Cosmic Microwave Background:[10][clarification needed] color scale from -20 to +20 µK.

One possible explanation of the cold spot is a huge void between us and the primordial CMB. A region cooler than surrounding sightlines can be observed if a large void is present, as such a void would cause an increased cancellation between the "late-time" integrated Sachs–Wolfe effect and the “ordinary” Sachs-Wolfe effect.[11] This effect would be much smaller if dark energy were not stretching the void as photons went through it.[4]

Rudnick et al.[12] found a dip in NVSS galaxy number counts in the direction of the Cold Spot, suggesting the presence of a supervoid. Since then, some additional works have cast doubt on the supervoid explanation. The correlation between the NVSS dip and the Cold Spot was found to be marginal using a more conservative statistical analysis.[13] Also, a direct survey for galaxies in several one-degree-square fields within the Cold Spot found no evidence for a supervoid.[14] However, the supervoid explanation has not been ruled out entirely; it remains intriguing, since supervoids do seem capable of affecting the CMB measurably.[10][15][16]

A 2015 study shows the presence of a supervoid that has a radius of 1.8 billion light years and is centered at 3 billion light-years of our galaxy in the direction of the Cold Spot, likely being associated with it.[4] This would make it the largest void detected, and one of the largest structures known.[17][18] Later measurements of the Sachs-Wolfe effect show its likely existence too.[19]

Although large voids are known in the universe, a void would have to be exceptionally vast to explain the cold spot, perhaps 1,000 times larger in volume than expected typical voids. It would be 6 billion–10 billion light-years away and nearly one billion light-years across, and would be perhaps even more improbable to occur in the large-scale structure than the WMAP cold spot would be in the primordial CMB.

A 2017 preprint [20] reported surveys showing no evidence that associated voids in the line of sight could have caused the CMB Cold Spot and concluded that it may instead have a primordial origin.

Cosmic texture[edit]

In late 2007, (Cruz et al.)[21] argued that the Cold Spot could be due to a cosmic texture, a remnant of a phase transition in the early Universe.

Parallel universe[edit]

A controversial claim by Laura Mersini-Houghton is that it could be the imprint of another universe beyond our own, caused by quantum entanglement between universes before they were separated by cosmic inflation.[3] Laura Mersini-Houghton said, "Standard cosmology cannot explain such a giant cosmic hole" and made the remarkable hypothesis that the WMAP cold spot is "… the unmistakable imprint of another universe beyond the edge of our own." If true, this provides the first empirical evidence for a parallel universe (though theoretical models of parallel universes existed previously). It would also support string theory[citation needed]. The team claims that there are testable consequences for its theory. If the parallel-universe theory is true, there will be a similar void in the Celestial sphere's opposite hemisphere[22][23] (which New Scientist reported to be in the Southern celestial hemisphere; the results of the New Mexico array study reported it as being in the Northern[3]).

Other researchers have modeled the cold spot as potentially the result of cosmological bubble collisions, again before inflation.[24][25][20]

A sophisticated computational analysis (using Kolmogorov complexity) has derived evidence for a north and a south cold spot in the satellite data:[26] "...among the high randomness regions is the southern non-Gaussian anomaly, the Cold Spot, with a stratification expected for the voids. Existence of its counterpart, a Northern Cold Spot with almost identical randomness properties among other low-temperature regions is revealed."

These predictions and others were made prior to the measurements (see Laura Mersini).[citation needed] However, apart from the Southern Cold Spot, the varied statistical methods in general fail to confirm each other regarding a Northern Cold Spot.[27] The 'K-map' used to detect the Northern Cold Spot was noted to have twice the measure of randomness measured in the standard model. The difference is speculated to be caused by the randomness introduced by voids (unaccounted-for voids were speculated to be the reason for the increased randomness above the standard model).[28]

Sensitivity to finding method[edit]

The cold spot is mainly anomalous because it stands out compared to the relatively hot ring around it; it is not unusual if one only considers the size and coldness of the spot itself.[7] More technically, its detection and significance depends on using a compensated filter like a Mexican hat wavelet to find it.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ After the dipole anisotropy, which is due to the Doppler shift of the microwave background radiation due to our peculiar velocity relative to the comoving cosmic rest frame, has been subtracted out. This feature is consistent with the Earth moving at some 627 km/s towards the constellation Virgo.


  1. ^ Wright, E.L. (2004). "Theoretical Overview of Cosmic Microwave Background Anisotropy". In W. L. Freedman. Measuring and Modeling the Universe. Carnegie Observatories Astrophysics Series. Cambridge University Press. p. 291. ISBN 0-521-75576-X. arXiv:astro-ph/0305591Freely accessible. 
  2. ^ Woo, Marcus. "The largest thing in the universe". BBC. Retrieved 14 August 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c Chown, Marcus (2007). "The void: Imprint of another universe?". New Scientist. 196 (2631): 34–37. doi:10.1016/s0262-4079(07)62977-7. 
  4. ^ a b c Szapudi, I.; et al. (2015). "Detection of a supervoid aligned with the cold spot of the cosmic microwave background". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 450 (1): 288–294. Bibcode:2015MNRAS.450..288S. arXiv:1405.1566Freely accessible. doi:10.1093/mnras/stv488. Lay summary. 
  5. ^ Cruz, M.; Martinez-Gonzalez, E.; Vielva, P.; Cayon, L. (2004). "Detection of a non-Gaussian Spot in WMAP". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 356: 29–40. Bibcode:2005MNRAS.356...29C. arXiv:astro-ph/0405341Freely accessible. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2004.08419.x. 
  6. ^ Cruz, M.; Cayon, L.; Martinez-Gonzalez, E.; Vielva, P.; Jin, J. (2006). "The non-Gaussian Cold Spot in the 3-year WMAP data". The Astrophysical Journal. 655: 11–20. Bibcode:2007ApJ...655...11C. arXiv:astro-ph/0603859Freely accessible. doi:10.1086/509703. 
  7. ^ a b Zhang, Ray; Huterer, Dragan (2009). "Disks in the sky: A reassessment of the WMAP "cold spot"". Astroparticle Physics. 33 (2): 69. Bibcode:2010APh....33...69Z. arXiv:0908.3988Freely accessible. doi:10.1016/j.astropartphys.2009.11.005. 
  8. ^ Ade, P. A. R.; et al. (Planck Collaboration) (2013). "Planck 2013 results. XXIII. Isotropy and statistics of the CMB". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 571: A23. Bibcode:2014A&A...571A..23P. arXiv:1303.5083Freely accessible [astro-ph.CO]. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201321534. 
  9. ^ Milligan on March 22, 2006 10:31 PM. "WMAP: The Cosmic Axis of Evil – EGAD". Archived from the original on 2015-06-07. Retrieved 2014-05-11. 
  10. ^ a b Granett, Benjamin R.; Neyrinck, Mark C.; Szapudi, István (2008). "An Imprint of Super-Structures on the Microwave Background due to the Integrated Sachs-Wolfe Effect". The Astrophysical Journal. 683 (2): L99–L102. Bibcode:2008ApJ...683L..99G. arXiv:0805.3695Freely accessible. doi:10.1086/591670. 
  11. ^ Kaiki Taro Inoue; Silk, Joseph (2006). "Local Voids as the Origin of Large-angle Cosmic Microwave Background Anomalies I". The Astrophysical Journal. 648: 23–30. Bibcode:2006ApJ...648...23I. arXiv:astro-ph/0602478Freely accessible. doi:10.1086/505636. 
  12. ^ Rudnick, Lawrence; Brown, Shea; Williams, Liliya R. (2007). "Extragalactic Radio Sources and the WMAP Cold Spot". The Astrophysical Journal. 671: 40–44. Bibcode:2007ApJ...671...40R. arXiv:0704.0908Freely accessible. doi:10.1086/522222. 
  13. ^ Smith, Kendrick M.; Huterer, Dragan (2008). "No evidence for the cold spot in the NVSS radio survey". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 403 (2): 2. Bibcode:2010MNRAS.403....2S. arXiv:0805.2751Freely accessible. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2009.15732.x. 
  14. ^ Granett, Benjamin R.; Szapudi, István; Neyrinck, Mark C. (2009). "Galaxy Counts on the CMB Cold Spot". The Astrophysical Journal. 714 (825): 825. Bibcode:2010ApJ...714..825G. arXiv:0911.2223Freely accessible. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/714/1/825. 
  15. ^ Dark Energy and the Imprint of Super-Structures on the Microwave Background
  16. ^ Finelli, Fabio; Garcia-Bellido, Juan; Kovacs, Andras; Paci, Francesco; Szapudi, Istvan (2014). "A Supervoid Imprinting the Cold Spot in the Cosmic Microwave Background". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 455 (2): 1246. Bibcode:2016MNRAS.455.1246F. arXiv:1405.1555Freely accessible. doi:10.1093/mnras/stv2388. 
  17. ^ "Mysterious 'Cold Spot': Fingerprint of Largest Structure in the Universe?". Discovery News. 
  18. ^ A claim by Szapudi et al states that the newly found void is the "largest structure ever identified by humanity". However, another source reports that the largest structure is the supercluster corresponding to the NQ2-NQ4 GRB overdensity at 10 billion light years.
  19. ^ Seshadri, Nadatur; Crittenden, Robert (2016). "A detection of the integrated Sachs-Wolfe imprint of cosmic superstructures using a matched-filter approach". The Astrophysical Journal. 830 (2016): L19. Bibcode:2016ApJ...830L..19N. arXiv:1608.08638Freely accessible. doi:10.3847/2041-8205/830/1/L19. 
  20. ^ a b Mackenzie, Ruari; et al. (2017). "Evidence against a supervoid causing the CMB Cold Spot". arXiv:1704.03814Freely accessible [astro-ph.CO]. Another explanation could be that the Cold Spot is the remnant of a collision between our Universe and another ‘bubble’ universe during an early inflationary phase (Chang et al. 2009, Larjo & Levi 2010). 
  21. ^ Cruz, M.; N. Turok; P. Vielva; E. Martínez-González; M. Hobson (2007). "A Cosmic Microwave Background Feature Consistent with a Cosmic Texture". Science. 318 (5856): 1612–4. Bibcode:2007Sci...318.1612C. PMID 17962521. arXiv:0710.5737Freely accessible. doi:10.1126/science.1148694. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  22. ^ Holman, R.; Mersini-Houghton, L.; Takahashi, Tomo (2006). "Cosmological Avatars of the Landscape I: Bracketing the SUSY Breaking Scale". Physical Review D. 77 (6): 063510. Bibcode:2008PhRvD..77f3510H. arXiv:hep-th/0611223Freely accessible. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.77.063510. 
  23. ^ Holman, R.; Mersini-Houghton, Laura; Takahashi, Tomo (2006). "Cosmological Avatars of the Landscape II: CMB and LSS Signatures". Physical Review D. 77 (6): 063511. Bibcode:2008PhRvD..77f3511H. arXiv:hep-th/0612142Freely accessible. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.77.063511. 
  24. ^ Chang, Spencer; Kleban, Matthew; Levi, Thomas S. (2008). "Watching Worlds Collide: Effects on the CMB from Cosmological Bubble Collisions". Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. 2009 (4): 025. arXiv:0810.5128Freely accessible. doi:10.1088/1475-7516/2009/04/025. 
  25. ^ Czech, Bartłomiej; Kleban, Matthew; Larjo, Klaus; Levi, Thomas S; Sigurdson, Kris (2010). "Polarizing bubble collisions". Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. 2010 (12): 023. Bibcode:2010JCAP...12..023C. doi:10.1088/1475-7516/2010/12/023. 
  26. ^ Gurzadyan, V. G.; et al. (2009). "Kolmogorov cosmic microwave background sky". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 497 (2): 343. Bibcode:2009A&A...497..343G. arXiv:0811.2732Freely accessible. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/200911625. 
  27. ^ Rossmanith, G.; Raeth, C.; Banday, A. J.; Morfill, G. (2009). "Non-Gaussian Signatures in the five-year WMAP data as identified with isotropic scaling indices". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 399 (4): 1921–1933. Bibcode:2009MNRAS.399.1921R. arXiv:0905.2854Freely accessible. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2009.15421.x. 
  28. ^ Gurzadyan, V. G.; Kocharyan, A. A. (2008). "Kolmogorov stochasticity parameter measuring the randomness in Cosmic Microwave Background". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 492 (2): L33. Bibcode:2008A&A...492L..33G. arXiv:0810.3289Freely accessible. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:200811188. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: Sky map 03h 15m 05s, −19° 35′ 02″