[1207.4759] Testing general relativity with gravitational waves: a reality check

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).

abs pdf

Jul 19, 2012

1207.4759 (/preprints)
2012-07-19, 21:45 [edit]

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© M. Vallisneri 2012 — last modified on 2010/01/29

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