Have we found evidence of alien life on Venus? What does the phosphine ...

ASTRONOMERS have announced the discovery of molecular phosphine on Venus - a gas that is created on Earth by living organisms. Have we finally found evidence of alien life?

PUBLISHED: 17:54, Mon, Sep 14, 2020 | UPDATED: 20:48, Mon, Sep 14, 2020

The groundbreaking discovery promises to shake up the hunt for alien life, shifting astronomers' attention to the second planet from the Sun. In a study published today in Nature Astronomy, a collaboration of scientists has presented evidence of an extremely rare gas in Venus' atmosphere. The gas is a noxious and flammable compound known as phosphine.

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Here on Earth, the gas is predominantly created through industrial processes and bacterial activity.

As such, the latest discovery might just be the evidence needed to prove we are not alone in the universe.

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Dr David Clements, an astrophysicist from Imperial College London who took part in the study, tweeted: "We found the gas phosphine in the upper atmosphere.

"There is no known way this can be produced by normal chemical processes by lightning, volcanoes or asteroid impact on Venus.

"Life can and does produce it on Earth. So we may have found evidence for unusual chemistry or maybe life."

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Life on Venus: Phosphine gas on VenusLife on Venus: Astronomers have detected a potential 'biosignature' on Venus (Image: NASA/GETTY)

Life on Venus; Surface of planet VenusLife on Venus: The planet's atmosphere is inhospitable and the atmosphere is toxic (Image: NASA)

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What does the phosphine discovery mean? Have we found evidence of life?

The phosphine molecule has been dubbed a "biosignature" of life as it is not produced through non-biological means.

Last year, for instance, US astrobiologists announced detecting the foul-smelling gas on planets beyond Earth could be a good indicator of alien life.

In their study, the researchers noted: "Phosphine is a promising biosignature gas, as it has no known abiotic false positives on terrestrial planets from any source that could generate the high fluxes required for detection."

However, although the discovery of phosphine on Venus is promising, it does not equate the discovery of alien life just yet.

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