Authors: Michele Vallisneri
Date: 19 Jul 2012
Abstract: The observations of gravitational-wave signals from astrophysical sources such as binary inspirals will be used to test general relativity for self consistency and against alternative theories of gravity. I describe a simple formula that can be used to characterize the prospects of such tests, by estimating the matched-filtering signal-to-noise ratio required to detect non-general-relativistic corrections of a given magnitude. The formula is valid for sufficiently strong signals; it requires the computation of a single number (the fitting factor between the general-relativistic and corrected waveform families); and it can be applied to all tests that embed general-relativity in a larger theory, including tests of individual theories such as Brans--Dicke gravity, as well as the phenomenological schemes that introduce corrections and extra terms in the post-Newtonian phasing expressions of inspiral waveforms. Using the formula, I show on very general grounds that the volume-limited gravitational-wave searches performed with second-generation ground-based detectors would detect alternative-gravity corrections to general-relativistic waveforms as small as 1--10% (i.e., fitting factors of 0.9 to 0.99).
© M. Vallisneri 2012 — last modified on 2010/01/29
Tantum in modicis, quantum in maximis