Testing General Relativity with Low-Frequency, Space-Based Gravitational-Wave Detectors

Jonathan R. Gair 
Institute of Astronomy, Madingley Road,
Cambridge, CB3 0HA, UK

'External link'
Michele Vallisneri 
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology,
Pasadena, CA 91109, USA

'External link'
Shane L. Larson 
Center for Interdisclipinary Research and Exploration in Astrophysics,
Department of Physics and Astronomy,
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208, USA

John G. Baker 
Gravitational Astrophysics Lab, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center,
8800 Greenbelt Rd., Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA


We review the tests of general relativity that will become possible with space-based gravitational-wave detectors operating in the ∼ 10–5 – 1 Hz low-frequency band. The fundamental aspects of gravitation that can be tested include the presence of additional gravitational fields other than the metric; the number and tensorial nature of gravitational-wave polarization states; the velocity of propagation of gravitational waves; the binding energy and gravitational-wave radiation of binaries, and therefore the time evolution of binary inspirals; the strength and shape of the waves emitted from binary mergers and ringdowns; the true nature of astrophysical black holes; and much more. The strength of this science alone calls for the swift implementation of a space-based detector; the remarkable richness of astrophysics, astronomy, and cosmology in the low-frequency gravitational-wave band make the case even stronger.

Keywords: general relativity, gravitational waves, LISA, eLISA, data analysis, black holes, gravitation

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