Gravitational wave tests of general relativity with the parameterized post-Einsteinian framework

Neil Cornish, Laura Sampson, Nicolás Yunes, Frans Pretorius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


Gravitational wave astronomy has tremendous potential for studying extreme astrophysical phenomena and exploring fundamental physics. The waves produced by binary black hole mergers will provide a pristine environment in which to study strong-field dynamical gravity. Extracting detailed information about these systems requires accurate theoretical models of the gravitational wave signals. If gravity is not described by general relativity, analyses that are based on waveforms derived from Einstein's field equations could result in parameter biases and a loss of detection efficiency. A new class of "parameterized post-Einsteinian" waveforms has been proposed to cover this eventuality. Here, we apply the parameterized post-Einsteinian approach to simulated data from a network of advanced ground-based interferometers and from a future space-based interferometer. Bayesian inference and model selection are used to investigate parameter biases, and to determine the level at which departures from general relativity can be detected. We find that in some cases the parameter biases from assuming the wrong theory can be severe. We also find that gravitational wave observations will beat the existing bounds on deviations from general relativity derived from the orbital decay of binary pulsars by a large margin across a wide swath of parameter space.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number062003
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 30 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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