Weak equivalence principle for self-gravitating bodies: A sieve for purely metric theories of gravity
Physical Review D
We propose the almost-geodesic motion of self-gravitating test bodies as a possible selection rule among metric theories of gravity. Starting from a heuristic statement, the "gravitational weak equivalence principle", we build a formal, operative test able to probe the validity of the principle for any metric theory of gravity, in an arbitrary number of spacetime dimensions. We show that, if the theory admits a well-posed variational formulation, this test singles out only the purely metric
... ries of gravity. This conclusion reproduces known results in the cases of general relativity (also with a cosmological constant term), and scalar-tensor theories, but extends also to debated or unknown scenarios, such as f(R) and Lanczos-Lovelock theories. We thus provide new tools going beyond the standard methods, where the latter turn out to be inconclusive or inapplicable.