MASERs: A Very Special Window to the Universe

Dr. Victor Migenes
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Brigham Young University


MASER emission was discovered in astrophysical settings in 1965. The extremely
compact nature of the source and the non-thermal origin of the radiation was
determined in 1968. Since, MASER emission has been found and studied in: star
forming regions, late-type stars, supernova remnants, Active Galactic Nuclei (AGNs)
and even Comets. Usually regions that tend to be embedded in dense gas and dust,
and can only be observed in the Infrared or Radio regime of the ElectroMagnetic
spectrum. MASER emission is mainly characterize by its high intensity, polarization,
variability, and its close location to the energy source required for the pumping
mechanism. High spatial-resolution observations of MASER emission have become
the most successful probing tool in these environments to study the physical
processes taking place.

In this talk I will mostly describe some of the exciting results that we have been
able to learn about the astrophysical environments in which MASERs are found.