Testing the strong-field dynamics of general relativity with gravitational wave signals from coalescing binary neutron stars

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Dr Chris Van Den Broeck (Nikhef)


Coalescing compact binaries consisting of neutron stars and/or black holes are among the most likely sources for a first detection of gravitational waves by the Advanced LIGO and Virgo interferometers that are currently under construction. We present TIGER (Test Infrastructure for GEneral Relativity), a Bayesian data analysis pipeline to test the genuinely strong-field dynamics of general relativity (GR) using gravitational wave signals from coalescing binaries. TIGER offers a model-independent test of GR, in that it is not necessary to compare it with any particular alternative theory of gravity. It is well-suited to a regime where most sources have low signal-to-noise ratios. Information from multiple sources can trivially be combined, leading to a stronger test. We focus on binary neutron star coalescences, since for such sources sufficiently accurate waveform models are available which can be generated fast enough on a computer that they can be used in Bayesian inference. By performing numerical experiments in Gaussian, stationary noise, we demonstrate that the pipeline is robust against a number of unknown fundamental, astrophysical, and instrumental effects, such as differences between waveform approximants, a limited number of post-Newtonian phase contributions being known, the effects of neutron star tidal deformability on the orbital motion, neutron star spins, and instrumental calibration errors.

Primary author


Dr John Veitch (Nikhef) Michalis Agathos (Nikhef) Dr Salvatore Vitale (MIT) Dr Tjonnie Li (Caltech) Dr Walter Del Pozzo (Unversity of Birmingham)

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