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[ascl:1701.001] The Joker: A custom Monte Carlo sampler for binary-star and exoplanet radial velocity data

Given sparse or low-quality radial-velocity measurements of a star, there are often many qualitatively different stellar or exoplanet companion orbit models that are consistent with the data. The consequent multimodality of the likelihood function leads to extremely challenging search, optimization, and MCMC posterior sampling over the orbital parameters. The Joker is a custom-built Monte Carlo sampler that can produce a posterior sampling for orbital parameters given sparse or noisy radial-velocity measurements, even when the likelihood function is poorly behaved. The method produces correct samplings in orbital parameters for data that include as few as three epochs. The Joker can therefore be used to produce proper samplings of multimodal pdfs, which are still highly informative and can be used in hierarchical (population) modeling.

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