You will even come across parameters, such as the semi-major axis of the binary orbit, that have absolutely no effect on the shape of a light curve but a huge effect on a radial-velocity curve. Learning these sorts of things is the first step in learning how to do binary star data analysis.
It might also predict how fast the stars are moving along our line of sight as they orbit, movements that trace out radial-velocity curves. These predictions, called "observables," can then be compared with the observations to see how well they agree.
Part of the art of fitting observations is to understand which parameters are important for binaries of different kinds, and in turn which of those important parameters you should adjust to fit a set of light and/or radial-velocity curves. In this regard, binary star data analysis is a bit like learning to play chess.
There was no eureka moment, no fluttering of hearts, but rather a slowly growing consensus among our research group that the sinusoidal radial-velocity curve
of HD 102195 was consistent with a Jupiter-mass planet orbiting the star every four days.
The slider positions define a model planetary system, which allows the computer to calculate a radial-velocity curve that charts the star's response to the orbiting planets.
You know when a particular configuration of planets satisfies the observations when the calculated radial-velocity curve comes close to running through all the data points.
You'll have fun moving the sliders as you try to adjust the radial-velocity curve to fit the data and pass the console's statistical tests.
Binary Maker comes with more than 200 data files, each containing all the information the program needs to generate a synthetic light curve, a synthetic radial-velocity curve, and a 3-D model of a binary's components orbiting their center of gravity (barycenter).
You can observe the correlations between the components' orbital motions and the resulting light and radial-velocity curves. The plots can be rescaled with the mouse to zoom in on regions of interest.
You can create a binary star system from scratch and modify various parameters to see how the light and radial-velocity curves change.
(STIS has far finer angular resolution than the ground-based spectrographs that produced Damineli's ambiguous radial-velocity curve
The companion's radial-velocity curve
, with the mass function's help, provides a lower limit to the compact object's mass.