Testing Einstein's weak equivalence principle with gravitational waves

Xue Feng Wu, He Gao, Jun Jie Wei, Peter Mészáros, Bing Zhang, Zi Gao Dai, Shuang Nan Zhang, Zong Hong Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Scopus citations


A conservative constraint on Einstein's weak equivalence principle (WEP) can be obtained under the assumption that the observed time delay between correlated particles from astronomical sources is dominated by the gravitational fields through which they move. Current limits on the WEP are mainly based on the observed time delays of photons with different energies. It is highly desirable to develop more accurate tests that include the gravitational wave (GW) sector. The detection by the advanced LIGO/VIRGO systems of gravitational waves will provide attractive candidates for constraining the WEP, extending the tests to gravitational interactions with potentially higher accuracy. Considering the capabilities of the advanced LIGO/VIRGO network and the source direction uncertainty, we show that the joint detection of GWs and electromagnetic signals could probe the WEP to an accuracy down to 10-10, which is one order of magnitude tighter than previous limits, and 7 orders of magnitude tighter than the multimessenger (photons and neutrinos) results by supernova 1987A.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number024061
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 29 2016


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Wu, X. F., Gao, H., Wei, J. J., Mészáros, P., Zhang, B., Dai, Z. G., ... Zhu, Z. H. (2016). Testing Einstein's weak equivalence principle with gravitational waves. Physical Review D, 94(2), [024061]. https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevD.94.024061