Hubble flow variance and the cosmic rest frame
We characterize the radial and angular variance of the Hubble flow in the composite sample of 4534 galaxies, on scales in which much of the flow is in the nonlinear regime. With no cosmological assumptions other than the existence of a suitably averaged linear Hubble law, we find with decisive Bayesian evidence (ln B >> 5) that the Hubble constant, when averaged in independent spherical shells, is closer to its asymptotic value when referred to the rest frame of the Local Group (LG), rather than the standard rest frame of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). An exception occurs for radial shells in the range 40 h⁻¹ - 60 h⁻¹ Mpc. Angular averages reveal a dipole structure in the Hubble flow, whose amplitude changes markedly over the range 32 h⁻¹ - 62 h⁻¹ Mpc. Whereas the LG frame dipole is initially constant and then decreases significantly, the CMB frame dipole initially decreases but then increases. The map of angular Hubble flow variation in the LG rest frame is found to coincide with that of the residual CMB temperature dipole, with correlation coefficient -0.92. These results are difficult to reconcile with the standard kinematic interpretation of the motion of the Local Group in response to the clustering dipole, but are consistent with a foreground nonkinematic anisotropy in the distance-redshift relation of 0.5% on scales up to 65 h⁻¹ Mpc. Effectively, the differential expansion of space produced by nearby nonlinear structures of local voids and denser walls and filaments cannot be reduced to a local boost. This hypothesis suggests a reinterpretation of bulk flows, which may potentially impact on calibration of supernova distances, anomalies associated with large angles in the CMB anisotropy spectrum, and the dark flow inferred from the kinematic Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect. It is consistent with recent studies that find evidence for a nonkinematic dipole in the distribution of distant radio sources.