First search for nontensorial gravitational waves from known pulsars

Abbott, B. P. and Jawahar, S. and Lockerbie, N. A, and Tokmakov, K. V., LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration (2018) First search for nontensorial gravitational waves from known pulsars. Physical Review Letters, 120 (3). 031104. ISSN 0031-9007 (

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We present results from the first directed search for nontensorial gravitational waves. While general relativity allows for tensorial (plus and cross) modes only, a generic metric theory may, in principle, predict waves with up to six different polarizations. This analysis is sensitive to continuous signals of scalar, vector, or tensor polarizations, and does not rely on any specific theory of gravity. After searching data from the first observation run of the advanced LIGO detectors for signals at twice the rotational frequency of 200 known pulsars, we find no evidence of gravitational waves of any polarization. We report the first upper limits for scalar and vector strains, finding values comparable in magnitude to previously published limits for tensor strain. Our results may be translated into constraints on specific alternative theories of gravity.


Abbott, B. P., Jawahar, S. ORCID logoORCID:, Lockerbie, N. A, ORCID logoORCID: and Tokmakov, K. V. ORCID logoORCID:;