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A correlation between the cosmic microwave background and large-scale structure in the Universe

Abstract

Observations of distant supernovae and the fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) indicate that the expansion of the Universe may be accelerating1 under the action of a ‘cosmological constant’ or some other form of ‘dark energy’. This dark energy now appears to dominate the Universe and not only alters its expansion rate, but also affects the evolution of fluctuations in the density of matter, slowing down the gravitational collapse of material (into, for example, clusters of galaxies) in recent times. Additional fluctuations in the temperature of CMB photons are induced as they pass through large-scale structures2 and these fluctuations are necessarily correlated with the distribution of relatively nearby matter3. Here we report the detection of correlations between recent CMB data4 and two probes of large-scale structure: the X-ray background5 and the distribution of radio galaxies6. These correlations are consistent with those predicted by dark energy, indicating that we are seeing the imprint of dark energy on the growth of structure in the Universe.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to M. Nolta, L. Page and the rest of the WMAP team, as well as to N. Turok, B. Partridge and B. Bassett, for useful conversations. R.C. acknowledges financial support from a PPARC fellowship.

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Correspondence to Robert Crittenden.

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The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.

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Supplementary Notes and Figure (PDF 119 kb)

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Further reading

Figure 1: The X-ray background fluctuations are correlated with the microwave sky at a higher level than would be expected by chance.
Figure 2: The distribution of radio galaxies is correlated with the microwave sky.

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