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Investigating the relation between gravitational wave tests of general relativity

Johnson-McDaniel, Nathan K. and Ghosh, Abhirup and Ghonge, Sudarshan and Saleem, Muhammed and Krishnendu, N. V. and Clark, James A. (2022) Investigating the relation between gravitational wave tests of general relativity. Physical Review D, 105 (4). Art. No. 044020. ISSN 2470-0010. doi:10.1103/physrevd.105.044020.

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Gravitational wave observations of compact binary coalescences provide precision probes of strong-field gravity. There is thus now a standard set of null tests of general relativity (GR) applied to LIGO-Virgo detections and many more such tests proposed. However, the relation between all these tests is not yet well understood. We start to investigate this by applying a set of standard tests to simulated observations of binary black holes in GR and with phenomenological deviations from GR. We consider four types of tests: residuals, inspiral-merger-ringdown consistency, parametrized phasing (two versions), and modified dispersion relation. We also check the consistency of the unmodeled reconstruction of the waveforms with the waveform recovered using GR templates. These tests are applied to simulated observations similar to GW150914 with both large and small deviations from GR and similar to GW170608 just with small deviations from GR. We find that while very large deviations from GR are picked up with high significance by almost all tests, more moderate deviations are picked up by only a few tests, and some deviations are not recognized as GR violations by any test at the moderate signal-to-noise ratios we consider. Moreover, the tests that identify various deviations with high significance are not necessarily the expected ones. In particular, the parametrized tests recover PN test parameters much closer to zero than their true values in some cases. Additionally, we find that of the GR deviations we consider, the residuals test is only able to detect extreme deviations from GR that no longer look like binary black hole coalescences in GR. The reconstruction comparison shows more promise for detecting relatively small GR deviations in an unmodeled framework, at least for high-mass systems.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Johnson-McDaniel, Nathan K.0000-0001-5357-9480
Ghosh, Abhirup0000-0002-2112-8578
Ghonge, Sudarshan0000-0002-5476-938X
Saleem, Muhammed0000-0002-3836-7751
Krishnendu, N. V.0000-0002-3483-7517
Clark, James A.0000-0003-3243-1393
Additional Information:© 2022 American Physical Society. (Received 20 September 2021; accepted 22 December 2021; published 9 February 2022) We wish to thank all the LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA testing GR group members who implemented these tests in publicly available code. Additionally, we thank Anuradha Samajdar for assistance with the MDR test, initial work on this project, and a careful reading of the paper, Archisman Ghosh for the code used to create the frame files to analyze, Noah Sennett and Michalis Agathos for the FTA reweighting script, Parameswaran Ajith for initial discussions, and Chris Van Den Broeck and B. S. Sathyaprakash for useful comments. N. K. J.-M. acknowledges support from STFC Consolidator Grant No. ST/L000636/1. S. G. gratefully acknowledges support from National Science Foundation (NSF) grant No. PHY-1809572. M. S. acknowledges support from the Infosys Foundation, the Swarnajayanti fellowship grant No. DST/SJF/PSA-01/2017-18, and NSF grants No. PHY-00090754, No. PHY-1806630, and No. PHY-2010970. N. V. K. acknowledges support from the Max Planck Society’s Independent Research Group Grant. J. A. C. acknowledges support from NSF grants No. PHY-1700765 and No. PHY-1764464. The authors are grateful for computational resources provided by the LIGO Laboratory and supported by NSF Grants No. PHY-0757058 and No. PHY-0823459 as well as by the Open Science Grid [172,173], which is supported by the NSF award No. 2030508. Additional computations were performed on the clusters Alice at the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and Hypatia at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute), Potsdam-Golm. This material is based upon work supported by NSF’s LIGO Laboratory which is a major facility fully funded by the NSF. This research has made use of data obtained from the Gravitational Wave Open Science Center (, a service of LIGO Laboratory, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo Collaboration. LIGO is funded by the US NSF. Virgo is funded by the French Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), the Italian Istituto Nazionale della Fisica Nucleare (INFN) and the Dutch Nikhef, with contributions by Polish and Hungarian institutes. We used the following software in this study: bayeswave [92,93], lalsuite [91], matplotlib [174], numpy [175], pesummary [176], pycbc [177], scipy [178], and seaborn [179]. This is LIGO document P2100322.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)ST/L000636/1
Infosys FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Department of Science and Technology (India)DST/SJF/PSA-01/2017-18
Max Planck SocietyUNSPECIFIED
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)UNSPECIFIED
Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN)UNSPECIFIED
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Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
LIGO DocumentP2100322
Issue or Number:4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220209-265853000
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:113344
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:09 Feb 2022 23:32
Last Modified:09 Feb 2022 23:32

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