What the small angle CMB really tells us about the curvature of the Universe
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It is well known that observations of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) are highly sensitive to the spatial curvature of the Universe, k. Here we find that what is in fact being tightly constrained by small angle fluctuations is spatial curvature near the surface of last scattering, and that if we allow k to be a function of position, rather than taking a constant value everywhere, then considerable spatial curvature is permissible within our own locale. This result is of interest for the giant void models that attempt to explain the supernovae observations without Dark Energy. We find voids models with a homogeneous big bang can be compatible with the observed small angle CMB, but only if they exist in a positively curved universe. To be compatible with local measurements of H_0, however, we find that a radially varying bang time is required.