Dr. Gerrit Verschuur, Adjunct Professor of Physics at the University of Memphis, has noticed a disturbing correlation between the small-scale structures in the Cosmic Background Radiation (CMB) and data from his All Sky Survey of Interstellar Neutral Hydrogen (HI.)
The Nobel Winning COBE and it's successor, WMAP were designed to detect faint variations in the CMB signals left over from the Big Bang. The age and composition of the Universe has been predicted from the small-scale structure observed in this data.
However, if even a small fraction of the anisotropy can be associated with structure in the Milky Way, the cosmological interpretations of the data could be called into question.
Verschuur, a pioneer in the science of radio astronomy, has been studying the properties of the Milky Way using interstellar HI for almost 50 years. According to his recent work, it appears that many of the small-scale structures observed by WMAP are correlated with HI.
If confirmed, Verschuur's discovery means that the structure superimposed on the CMB is produced in the Milky Way and does not have a cosmic origin. Thus the CMB signal from the early universe may be smoother than anyone expected, which raises new questions as to how structure ever emerged in the Universe to create galaxies.