Probing Dynamical Spacetimes with Gravitational Waves
Springer Handbook of Spacetime
This decade will see the first direct detections of gravitational waves by observatories such as Advanced LIGO and Virgo. Among the prime sources are coalescences of binary neutron stars and black holes, which are ideal probes of dynamical spacetime. This will herald a new era in the empirical study of gravitation. For the first time, we will have access to the genuinely strong-field dynamics, where low-energy imprints of quantum gravity may well show up. In addition, we will be able to search
... or effects which might only make their presence known at large distance scales, such as the ones that gravitational waves must traverse in going from source to observer. Finally, coalescing binaries can be used as cosmic distance markers, to study the large-scale structure and evolution of the Universe. With the advanced detector era fast approaching, concrete data analysis algorithms are being developed to look for deviations from general relativity in signals from coalescing binaries, taking into account the noisy detector output as well as the expectation that most sources will be near the threshold of detectability. Similarly, several practical methods have been proposed to use them for cosmology. We explain the state of the art, including the obstacles that still need to be overcome in order to make optimal use of the signals that will be detected. Although the emphasis will be on second-generation observatories, we will also discuss some of the science that could be done with future third-generation ground-based facilities such as Einstein Telescope, as well as with space-based detectors.