Keyboard shortcut for Latex mode

Is there a way of starting a new latex equation without selecting the menu item?

For example, I want to be able to type

Let $X_1,\ldots,X_n$ be an i.i.d. sample ...

while in visual mode (without taking my fingers off the keyboard to select a menu item). If I try to do the obvious thing start typing $X_1$ in visual mode, I will get \$X\_1\$, which is not what I want.

To work around this, I switch back and forth between markdown a visual mode a lot, however, I sometimes find the equations will be quoted (i.e., will show the latex codes and not the equation) when I switch from markdown to visual mode and back.

What I really want is a way of typing $$ and having the visual mode editor interpret that as an equation and let me start typing a latex expression.

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