Fundamental theoretical bias in gravitational wave astrophysics and the parametrized post-Einsteinian framework

Nicolás Yunes, Frans Pretorius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

331 Scopus citations


We consider the concept of fundamental bias in gravitational wave astrophysics as the assumption that general relativity is the correct theory of gravity during the entire wave-generation and propagation regime. Such an assumption is valid in the weak field, as verified by precision experiments and observations, but it need not hold in the dynamical strong-field regime where tests are lacking. Fundamental bias can cause systematic errors in the detection and parameter estimation of signals, which can lead to a mischaracterization of the Universe through incorrect inferences about source event rates and populations. We propose a remedy through the introduction of the parametrized post-Einsteinian framework, which consists of the enhancement of waveform templates via the inclusion of post-Einsteinian parameters. These parameters would ostensibly be designed to interpolate between templates constructed in general relativity and well-motivated alternative theories of gravity, and also include extrapolations that follow sound theoretical principles, such as consistency with conservation laws and symmetries. As an example, we construct parametrized post-Einsteinian templates for the binary coalescence of equal-mass, nonspinning compact objects in a quasicircular inspiral. The parametrized post-Einsteinian framework should allow matched filtered data to select a specific set of post-Einsteinian parameters without a priori assuming the validity of the former, thus either verifying general relativity or pointing to possible dynamical strong-field deviations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number122003
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 14 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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