Profile comparison of the Stokes parameters V and I is a powerful tool for maser data analysis, which provides the first direct methods for unambiguous determination of (1) the maser saturation stage, (2) the amplification optical depth and intrinsic Doppler width of unsaturated masers, and (3) the comparative magnitudes of Zeeman splitting and Doppler line width. Circular polarization recently detected in OH 1720 MHz emission from the Galactic center appears to provide the first direct evidence for maser saturation.

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Published in The Astrophysical Journal, v. 504, no. 1, p. 390-395.

© 1998. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

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