GW170817 falsifies dark matter emulators

Boran S., Desai S., Kahya E. O., Woodard R. P.

PHYSICAL REVIEW D, vol.97, no.4, 2018 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 97 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Doi Number: 10.1103/physrevd.97.041501
  • Journal Name: PHYSICAL REVIEW D
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


On August 17, 2017 the LIGO interferometers detected the gravitational wave (GW) signal (GW170817) from the coalescence of binary neutron stars. This signal was also simultaneously seen throughout the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum from radio waves to gamma rays. We point out that this simultaneous detection of GW and EM signals rules out a class of modified gravity theories, termed "dark matter emulators," which dispense with the need for dark matter by making ordinary matter couple to a different metric from that of GW. We discuss other kinds of modified gravity theories which dispense with the need for dark matter and are still viable. This simultaneous observation also provides the first observational test of Einstein's weak equivalence principle (WEP) between gravitons and photons. We estimate the Shapiro time delay due to the gravitational potential of the total dark matter distribution along the line of sight (complementary to the calculation by Abbott et al. [Astrophys. J. Lett. 848, L13 (2017)]) to be about 400 days. Using this estimate for the Shapiro delay and from the time difference of 1.7 seconds between the GW signal and gamma rays, we can constrain violations of the WEP using the parametrized post-Newtonian parameter gamma, and it is given by vertical bar gamma(GW) - gamma(EM)vertical bar < 9.8 x 10(-8).