The propagation speed of gravitational waves, cT , has been tightly constrained by the binary neutron star merger GW170817 and its electromagnetic counterpart, under the assumption of a frequency-independent cT . Drawing upon arguments from Effective Field Theory and quantum gravity, we discuss the possibility that modifications of General Relativity allow for transient deviations of cT from the speed of light at frequencies well below the band of current ground-based detectors. We motivate two representative Ansätze for cT (f), and study their impact upon the gravitational waveforms of massive black hole binary mergers detectable by the LISA mission. We forecast the constraints on cT (f) obtainable from individual systems and a population of sources, from both inspiral and a full inspiral-merger-ringdown waveform. We show that LISA will enable us to place stringent independent bounds on departures from General Relativity in unexplored low-frequency regimes, even in the absence of an electromagnetic counterpart.

Original languageEnglish
Article number031
JournalJournal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022


  • Gravitational waves in GR and beyond: theory
  • modified gravity


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