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A search for tensor, vector, and scalar polarizations in the stochastic gravitational-wave background

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The detection of gravitational waves with Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo has enabled novel tests of general relativity, including direct study of the polarization of gravitational waves. While general relativity allows for only two tensor gravitational-wave polarizations, general metric theories can additionally predict two vector and two scalar polarizations. The polarization of gravitational waves is encoded in the spectral shape of the stochastic gravitational-wave background, formed by the superposition of cosmological and individually unresolved astrophysical sources. Using data recorded by Advanced LIGO during its first observing run, we search for a stochastic background of generically polarized gravitational waves. We find no evidence for a background of any polarization, and place the first direct bounds on the contributions of vector and scalar polarizations to the stochastic background. Under log-uniform priors for the energy in each polarization, we limit the energy densities of tensor, vector, and scalar modes at 95% credibility to ΩT0<5.58×10−8, ΩV0<6.35×10−8, and ΩS0<1.08×10−7 at a reference frequency f0=25  Hz.
Original languageEnglish
Article number201102
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2018


  • PhysRevLett.120.201102

    Rights statement: B. P. Abbott 'Search for Tensor, Vector, and Scalar Polarizations in the Stochastic Gravitational-Wave Background'. Physical Review Letters. 120, 201102. © 2018 American Physical Society. All rights reserved.

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