Testing modified gravity at cosmological distances with LISA standard sirens

Enis Belgacem*, Gianluca Calcagni, Marco Crisostomi, Charles Dalang, Yves Dirian, Jose Maria Ezquiagag, Matteo Raffaele Fasiello, Stefano Foffa, Alexander Ganz, Juan Garcia Bellido, Lucas Lombriser, Michele Maggiore, Nicola Tamanini, Gianmassimo Tasinato, Miguel Zumalacarregui, Enrico Barausse, Nico Bartolo, Daniele Bertacca, Antoine Klein, Sabino MatarreseMairi Sakellariadou

*Corresponding author for this work

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Modifications of General Relativity leave their imprint both on the cosmic expansion history through a non-trivial dark energy equation of state, and on the evolution of cosmological perturbations in the scalar and in the tensor sectors. In particular, the modification in the tensor sector gives rise to a notion of gravitational-wave (GW) luminosity distance, different from the standard electromagnetic luminosity distance, that can be studied with standard sirens at GW detectors such as LISA or third-generation ground based experiments. We discuss the predictions for modified GW propagation from some of the best studied theories of modified gravity, such as Horndeski or the more general degenerate higher order scalar-tensor (DHOST) theories, non-local infrared modifications of gravity, bigravity theories and the corresponding phenomenon of GW oscillation, as well as theories with extra or varying dimensions. We show that modified GW propagation is a completely generic phenomenon in modified gravity. We then use a simple parametrization of the effect in terms of two parameters (Ξ0,n), that is shown to fit well the results from a large class of models, to study the prospects of observing modified GW propagation using supermassive black hole binaries as standard sirens with LISA . We construct mock source catalogs and perform detailed Markov Chain Monte Carlo studies of the likelihood obtained from LISA standard sirens alone, as well as by combining them with CMB, BAO and SNe data to reduce the degeneracies between cosmological parameters. We find that the combination of LISA with the other cosmological datasets allows one to measure the parameter Ξ0 that characterizes modified GW propagation to the percent level accuracy, sufficient to test several modified gravity theories. LISA standard sirens can also improve constraints on GW oscillations induced by extra field content by about three orders of magnitude relative to the current capability of ground detectors. We also update the forecasts on the accuracy on H0 and on the dark-energy equation of state using more recent estimates for the LISA sensitivity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number024
Number of pages71
JournalJournal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2019


  • RCUK
  • STFC
  • ST/N000668/1
  • ST/P000258/1
  • ST/P00055X/1


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