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    Galaxy mergers are crucial to understanding galaxy evolution, therefore we must determine their observational signatures to select them from large IFU galaxy samples such as MUSE and SAMI. We employ 24 high-resolution idealized hydrodynamical galaxy merger simulations based on the ‘Feedback In Realistic Environment’ (FIRE-2) model to determine the observability of mergers to various configurations and stages using synthetic images and velocity maps. Our mergers cover a range of orbital configurations at fixed 1:2.5 stellar mass ratio for two gas rich spirals at low redshift. Morphological and kinematic asymmetries are computed for synthetic images and velocity maps spanning each interaction. We divide the interaction sequence into three: (1) the pair phase; (2) the merging phase; and (3) the post-coalescence phase. We correctly identify mergers between first pericentre passage and 500 Myr after coalescence using kinematic asymmetry with 66 per cent completeness, depending upon merger phase and the field of view of the observation. We detect fewer mergers in the pair phase (40 per cent) and many more in the merging and post-coalescence phases (97 per cent). We find that merger detectability decreases with field of view, except in retrograde mergers, where centrally concentrated asymmetric kinematic features enhances their detectability. Using a cut-off derived from a combinationmore »of photometric and kinematic asymmetry, we increase these detections to 89 per cent overall, 79 per cent in pairs, and close to 100 per cent in the merging and post-coalescent phases. By using this combined asymmetry cut-off we mitigate some of the effects caused by smaller fields of view subtended by massively multiplexed integral field spectroscopy programmes.

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    We present an empirical relation between the cold gas surface density (Σgas) and the optical extinction (AV) in a sample of 103 galaxies from the Extragalactic Database for Galaxy Evolution (EDGE) survey. This survey provides CARMA interferometric CO observations for 126 galaxies included in the Calar Alto Legacy Integral Field Area (CALIFA) survey. The matched, spatially resolved nature of these data sets allows us to derive the Σgas–AV relation on global, radial, and kpc (spaxel) scales. We determine AV from the Balmer decrement (H α/H β). We find that the best fit for this relation is $\Sigma _{\rm gas}\,(\rm {M_\odot \,pc}^{-2}) \sim 26 \times {\rm \mathit{ A}_\mathit{ V}} \,(\rm mag)$, and that it does not depend on the spatial scale used for the fit. However, the scatter in the fits increases as we probe smaller spatial scales, reflecting the complex relative spatial distributions of stars, gas, and dust. We investigate the Σgas/AV ratio on radial and spaxel scales as a function of $\mathrm{EW(H\,\alpha)}$. We find that at larger values of $\mathrm{EW({H\,\alpha })}$ (i.e. actively star-forming regions) this ratio tends to converge to twice the value expected for a foreground dust screen geometry (∼30 $\mathrm{M_{\odot } \, pc^{-2} \, mag^{-1}}$). On radial scales, we domore »not find a significant relation between the Σgas/AV ratio and the ionized gas metallicity. We contrast our estimates of Σgas using AV with compilations in the literature of the gas fraction on global and radial scales as well as with well-known scaling relations such as the radial star formation law and the Σgas–Σ* relation. These tests show that optical extinction is a reliable proxy for estimating Σgas in the absence of direct sub/millimeter observations of the cold gas.

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