We present a new, fully covariant and manifestly gauge-invariant expression for the temperature anisotropy in the cosmic microwave background radiation resulting from scalar perturbations. We pay particular attention to gauge issues such as the definition of the temperature perturbation and the placing of the last scattering surface. In the instantaneous recombination approximation, the expression may be integrated up to a Rees-Sciama term for arbitrary matter descriptions in flat, open and closed universes. We discuss the interpretation of our result in the baryon-dominated limit using numerical solutions for conditions on the last scattering surface, and confirm that for adiabatic perturbations the dominant contribution to the anisotropy on intermediate scales (the location of the Doppler peaks) may be understood in terms of the spatial inhomogeneity of the radiation temperature in the baryon rest frame. Finally, we show how this term enters the usual Sachs-Wolfe type calculations (it is rarely seen in such analyses) when subtle gauge effects at the last scattering surface are treated correctly.
A. D. Challinor and A. N. Lasenby, A covariant and gauge-invariant analysis of cosmic microwave background anisotropies from scalar perturbations, Phys.Rev. D 58 (1998)