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NASA Venus
via NASA

A strange chemical on Venus suggests there might be extraterrestrial life

Scientists have discovered traces of gas around Venus that could indicate the presence of alien life, according to a new study

Could there be life on Venus? Scientists have found traces of phosphine, a compound emitted by some lifeforms on Earth, surrounding Venus that suggests there could technically be alien life in its clouds, according to a new study published today (September 14) by Nature Astronomy.

While the discovery is “not robust evidence for life” on the planet, there’s currently no abiotic (physical) explanation as to the presence of the gas, which means biological life can’t be ruled out at this point.

The presence of phosphine remains “unexplained after exhaustive study”, with “no currently known abiotic production routes” in Venus’s atmosphere, clouds, surface, or subsurface, according to the researchers, led by Jane Greaves, an astronomer at Cardiff University.

“Phosphine could originate from unknown photochemistry or geochemistry, or, by analogy with biological production of phosphine on Earth, from the presence of life,” the study added.

By all accounts, Venus itself is uninhabitable, characterised by chaotic maelstroms of colliding atmospheric forces. But its clouds, which soar 30 to 40 miles above its surface, are reportedly Earth-like in nature.

“There are substantial conceptual problems for the idea of life in Venus’s clouds – the environment is extremely dehydrating as well as hyperacidic,” Greaves and her colleagues said.

“(To) determine whether there is life in the clouds of Venus, substantial modelling and experimentation will be important,” they concluded.

Elsewhere in space, a cloud with a ‘heartbeat’ has been found in deep space, which is cute until you realise that it’s ‘beating’ to the rhythm of a neighbouring black hole.