In cosmology:

A comoving observer is the only observer that will perceive the universe, including the cosmic microwave background radiation, to be isotropic. (Wikipedia)

According to this definition, is Earth considered as a comoving reference frame, or are we supposed to have a "peculiar velocity"?

What is the current precision for measuring if a frame is comoving or not, and for measuring its peculiar velocity? Or: From which speed (with respect to Earth) a frame would be considered as peculiar?


1 Answer 1


We have a small peculiar velocity with respect to the comoving frame, this can be seen as a dipole in the CMB data. (CMB gets doppler shifted)

This dipole (and the monopole) is usually subtracted before doing further analysis of the CMB. I think (but I am not sure about this) that measuring the CMB-dipole is the best and easiest way to find earths peculiar velocity with respect to the comoving frame.

There is no sharp division between an object with a peculiar velocity and one without, the question is, how large is the peculia velocity compared to what scales we are talking about.

The numerical value for the peculiar velocity is:

(369 $\pm$ 0,9) km/s.

You can find it here: https://arxiv.org/abs/1303.5087

  • $\begingroup$ I like it, +1. Adding the numerical value for Earth's mean peculiar velocity and the approximate precision of that number would make this answer perfect. $\endgroup$
    – Jim
    Jan 20, 2015 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ Added the actual numerical value, per your request:) $\endgroup$
    – Ihle
    Jan 20, 2015 at 16:15
  • $\begingroup$ That's a phantastic precision! $\endgroup$
    – Moonraker
    Jan 20, 2015 at 16:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes, the CMB has made cosmology into a precision science! Especially after WMAP and PLANCK. $\endgroup$
    – Ihle
    Jan 20, 2015 at 16:28

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