Astronomical Masers

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Science  08 Oct 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5694, pp. 235-236
DOI: 10.1126/science.1101353

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Astronomical masers--bright, small objects with strong molecular or atomic emissions at microwave wavelengths--are providing important insights into stellar objects and their surroundings, as well as providing a yardstick for the distance to stellar objects within the Milky Way. In his Perspective, Claussen reviews the history of their discovery and explains the insights that have been gained from their study. In an accompanying Perspective, Walsworth highlights the discovery, 50 years ago, of laboratory masers.