Recent analyses of the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) data have suggested that the low-order multipoles of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) anisotropy distribution show cosmologically interesting and unexpected morphologies and amplitudes. In this paper, we apply a power equalization (PE) filter to the high-latitude WMAP data in order to reconstruct these low-l multipoles free from the largest Galactic foreground modelling uncertainties in the Galactic plane. The characteristic spatial distributions of the modes of order l= 2,3,4,5 have been determined as a function of frequency, sky coverage and two methods for foreground correction: using the template-based corrections of Bennett et al. and by a simple linear projection scheme assuming the spectral dependence of the foreground components. Although the derived multipole maps are statistically consistent with previous estimates from Tegmark, de Oliveira-Costa & Hamilton (TOH) and Efstathiou, our analyses suggest that the K and Ka frequency bands remain significantly contaminated by residual foreground emission for the WMAP Kp2 mask. However, the l= 3,4,5 multipole maps for the Q, V and W channels indicate that, after foreground cleaning, these multipoles are dominated by the CMB anisotropy component. We confirm the TOH result that the octopole does indeed show structure in which its hot and cold spots are centred on a single plane in the sky, and show further that this is very stable with respect to the applied mask and foreground correction. The estimated quadrupole is much less stable showing non-negligible dependence on the Galactic foreground correction. Including these uncertainties is likely to weaken the statistical significance of the claimed alignment between the quadrupole and octopole. Nevertheless, these anisotropy patterns are also present in the COBE-DMR data and are unlikely to be associated with instrumental systematic artefacts.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
- Pub Date:
- December 2004
- cosmic microwave background;
- cosmology: observations;
- 21 pages, 17 figures, replaced with version accepted for publication in MNRAS, results unchanged