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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.

  3. Abstract We present a study of the stellar populations of globular clusters (GCs) in the Virgo Cluster core with a homogeneous spectroscopic catalog of 692 GCs within a major-axis distance R maj = 840 kpc from M87. We investigate radial and azimuthal variations in the mean age, total metallicity, [Fe/H], and α -element abundance of blue (metal-poor) and red (metal-rich) GCs using their co-added spectra. We find that the blue GCs have a steep radial gradient in [Z/H] within R maj = 165 kpc, with roughly equal contributions from [Fe/H] and [ α /Fe], and flat gradients beyond. By contrast, the red GCs show a much shallower gradient in [Z/H], which is entirely driven by [Fe/H]. We use GC-tagged Illustris simulations to demonstrate an accretion scenario where more massive satellites (with more metal- and α -rich GCs) sink further into the central galaxy than less massive ones, and where the gradient flattening occurs because of the low GC occupation fraction of low-mass dwarfs disrupted at larger distances. The dense environment around M87 may also cause the steep [ α /Fe] gradient of the blue GCs, mirroring what is seen in the dwarf galaxy population. The progenitors of red GCs havemore »a narrower mass range than those of blue GCs, which makes their gradients shallower. We also explore spatial inhomogeneity in GC abundances, finding that the red GCs to the northwest of M87 are slightly more metal-rich. Future observations of GC stellar population gradients will be useful diagnostics of halo merger histories.« less
  4. Abstract

    Dynamically excited objects within the Kuiper Belt show a bimodal distribution in their surface colors, and these differing surface colors may be a tracer of where these objects formed. In this work, we explore radial color distributions in the primordial planetesimal disk and implications for the positions of ice line/color transitions within the Kuiper Belt’s progenitor populations. We combine a full dynamical model of the Kuiper Belt’s evolution due to Neptune’s migration with precise surface colors measured by the Colours of the Outer Solar System Origins Survey in order to examine the true color ratios within the Kuiper Belt and the ice lines within the primordial disk. We investigate the position of a dominant, surface color–changing ice line, with two possible surface color layouts within the initial disk: (1) inner neutral surfaces and outer red and (2) inner red surfaces and outer neutral. We performed simulations with a primordial disk that truncates at 30 au. By radially stepping the color transition out through 0.5 au intervals, we show that both disk configurations are consistent with the observed color fraction. For an inner neutral, outer red primordial disk, we find that the color transition can be at283+2aumore »at a 95% confidence level. For an inner red, outer neutral primordial disk, the color transition can be at273+3au at a 95% confidence level.

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