Testing Gravity Theories Using Tensor Perturbations




Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


American Physical Society



Primordial gravitational waves constitute a promising probe of the very early Universe and the laws of gravity. We study in this work changes to tensor-mode perturbations that can arise in various proposed modified gravity theories. These include additional friction effects, nonstandard dispersion relations involving a massive graviton, a modified speed, and a small-scale modification. We introduce a physically motivated parametrization of these effects and use current available data to obtain exclusion regions in the parameter spaces. Taking into account the foreground subtraction, we then perform a forecast analysis focusing on the tensor-mode modified-gravity parameters as constrained by the future experiments COrE, Stage-IV and PIXIE. For a fiducial value of the tensor-to-scalar ratio r = 0.01, we find that an additional friction of 3.5-4.5% compared to GR will be detected at 3-σ by these experiments, while a decrease in friction will be more difficult to detect. The speed of gravitational waves needs to be by 5-15% different from the speed of light for detection. We find that the minimum detectable graviton mass is about 7.8 - 9.7 × 10⁻³³ eV, which is of the same order of magnitude as the graviton mass that allows massive gravity theories to produce late-time cosmic acceleration. Finally, we study the tensor-mode perturbations in modified gravity during inflation using our parametrization. We find that, in addition to being related to r, the tensor spectral index would be related to the friction parameter ν₀ by nT = -3ν₀ - r/8. Assuming that the friction parameter is unchanged throughout the history of the Universe, and that ν₀ is much larger than r, the future experiments considered here will be able to distinguish this modified-gravity consistency relation from the standard inflation consistency relation, and thus can be used as a further test of modified gravity. In summary, tensor-mode perturbations and cosmic-microwave-background B-mode polarization provide a complementary avenue to test gravity theories. © 2016 American Physical Society.



Gravitational waves, Dark energy (Astronomy), Cosmic background radiation, Gravitation


NSF under Grant No. AST-1517768


©2016 American Physical Society