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    The kinematic disturbances associated with major galaxy mergers are known to produce gas inflows, which in turn may trigger accretion onto the supermassive black holes (SMBH) of the participant galaxies. While this effect has been studied in galaxy pairs, the frequency of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) in fully coalesced post-merger systems is poorly constrained due to the limited size or impurity of extant post-merger samples. Previously, we combined convolutional neural network (CNN) predictions with visual classifications to identify a highly pure sample of 699 post-mergers in deep r-band imaging. In the work presented here, we quantify the frequency of AGNs in this sample using three metrics: optical emission lines, mid-infrared (mid-IR) colour, and radio detection of low-excitation radio galaxies (LERGs). We also compare the frequency of AGNs in post-mergers to that in a sample of spectroscopically identified galaxy pairs. We find that AGNs identified by narrow-line optical emission and mid-IR colour have an increased incidence rate in post-mergers, with excesses of ~4 over mass- and redshift-matched controls. The optical and mid-IR AGN excesses in post-mergers exceed the values found for galaxy pairs, indicating that AGN activity in mergers peaks after coalescence. Conversely, we recover no significant excess of LERGsmore »in post-mergers or pairs. Finally, we find that the [O iii] luminosity (a proxy for SMBH accretion rate) in post-mergers that host an optical AGN is ~0.3 dex higher on average than in non-interacting galaxies with an optical AGN, suggesting that mergers generate higher accretion rates than secular triggering mechanisms.

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    Post-starburst galaxies (PSBs) are defined as having experienced a recent burst of star formation, followed by a prompt truncation in further activity. Identifying the mechanism(s) causing a galaxy to experience a post-starburst phase therefore provides integral insight into the causes of rapid quenching. Galaxy mergers have long been proposed as a possible post-starburst trigger. Effectively testing this hypothesis requires a large spectroscopic galaxy survey to identify the rare PSBs as well as high-quality imaging and robust morphology metrics to identify mergers. We bring together these critical elements by selecting PSBs from the overlap of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the Canada–France Imaging Survey and applying a suite of classification methods: non-parametric morphology metrics such as asymmetry and Gini-M20, a convolutional neural network trained to identify post-merger galaxies, and visual classification. This work is therefore the largest and most comprehensive assessment of the merger fraction of PSBs to date. We find that the merger fraction of PSBs ranges from 19 per cent to 42 per cent depending on the merger identification method and details of the PSB sample selection. These merger fractions represent an excess of 3–46× relative to non-PSB control samples. Our results demonstrate that mergers play a significant role in generatingmore »PSBs, but that other mechanisms are also required. However, applying our merger identification metrics to known post-mergers in the IllustrisTNG simulation shows that 70 per cent of recent post-mergers (≲200 Myr) would not be detected. Thus, we cannot exclude the possibility that nearly all PSBs have undergone a merger in their recent past.

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    The importance of the post-merger epoch in galaxy evolution has been well documented, but post-mergers are notoriously difficult to identify. While the features induced by mergers can sometimes be distinctive, they are frequently missed by visual inspection. In addition, visual classification efforts are highly inefficient because of the inherent rarity of post-mergers (~1 per cent in the low-redshift Universe), and non-parametric statistical merger selection methods do not account for the diversity of post-mergers or the environments in which they appear. To address these issues, we deploy a convolutional neural network (CNN) that has been trained and evaluated on realistic mock observations of simulated galaxies from the IllustrisTNG simulations, to galaxy images from the Canada France Imaging Survey, which is part of the Ultraviolet Near Infrared Optical Northern Survey. We present the characteristics of the galaxies with the highest CNN-predicted post-merger certainties, as well as a visually confirmed subset of 699 post-mergers. We find that post-mergers with high CNN merger probabilities [p(x) > 0.8] have an average star formation rate that is 0.1 dex higher than a mass- and redshift-matched control sample. The SFR enhancement is even greater in the visually confirmed post-merger sample, a factor of 2 higher than the control sample.