Dr. Shanks thinks these irregularities may have been misinterpreted. He and his colleagues have been analysing data on the CMB that were collected by WMAP, a satellite launched in 2001 by NASA, America’s space agency. They have compared these data with those from telescopic surveys of galaxy clusters, and have found correlations between the two which, they say, indicate that the clusters are adding to the energy of the CMB by a process called inverse Compton scattering, in which hot gas boosts the energy of the microwaves. That, they say, might be enough to explain the irregularities without resorting to ghostly dark matter and energy.
According to a paper published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society by Dr. Tom Shanks and his colleagues at the University of Durham, in England, if something other than dark energy acts to push the universe apart, the whole theoretical structure would come crashing down. Many of the inferences about dark matter and dark energy come from detailed observations of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). This is radiation that pervades space, and is the earliest remnant of the Big Bang which is thought to have started it all. Small irregularities in the CMB have been used to deduce what the early universe looked like, and thus how much cold, dark matter and dark energy there are around.