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Forget Bowie and Mars. Is there life on Venus?

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  • Forget Bowie and Mars. Is there life on Venus?

    Is there life on Venus? Astronomers working with Jane Greaves from Cardiff University had observed the trivalent hydrogen phosphide PH₃, also called phosphine, in the cloud layer of our neighbouring planet, which could be interpreted as an indication of the existence of alien life.

    The scientific work itself, which appeared in the journal Nature Astronomy, reads much more cautiously: We emphasise that the detection of phosphine does not provide robust evidence for life, only for unusual and unexplained chemistry, the study ends. However, the authors do not want to rule out life as the origin of the chemical anomaly, even if this is not the most likely explanation.

    The astronomers had discovered the signature of the molecule PH₃ in observations with the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) in Hawaii and the Alma Observatory in the Chilean Atacama Desert. The recorded absorption line in the millimetre range of the electromagnetic spectrum corresponds to the deepest rotational transition of PH₃ and, according to the astronomers, cannot have been caused by any other chemical species. Using chemical models, the thickness of the line can be used to determine the frequency of the molecule. According to this, there are around 20 phosphine molecules for every billion molecules in the atmosphere - a tiny figure that would, however, be larger than the one here on earth. Most of the gas here is produced by life or from human technology, as in hydrogen phosphide that is used in the agricultural industry.

    https://phys.org/news/2020-09-venus-harbour-life.html

  • #2
    Perelandra.
    sigpic

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    • #3
      Originally posted by TheWall View Post
      Perelandra.
      Note this board's rules!

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Hypatia_Alexandria View Post
        Is there life on Venus? Astronomers working with Jane Greaves from Cardiff University had observed the trivalent hydrogen phosphide PH₃, also called phosphine, in the cloud layer of our neighbouring planet, which could be interpreted as an indication of the existence of alien life.

        The scientific work itself, which appeared in the journal Nature Astronomy, reads much more cautiously: We emphasise that the detection of phosphine does not provide robust evidence for life, only for unusual and unexplained chemistry, the study ends. However, the authors do not want to rule out life as the origin of the chemical anomaly, even if this is not the most likely explanation.

        The astronomers had discovered the signature of the molecule PH₃ in observations with the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) in Hawaii and the Alma Observatory in the Chilean Atacama Desert. The recorded absorption line in the millimetre range of the electromagnetic spectrum corresponds to the deepest rotational transition of PH₃ and, according to the astronomers, cannot have been caused by any other chemical species. Using chemical models, the thickness of the line can be used to determine the frequency of the molecule. According to this, there are around 20 phosphine molecules for every billion molecules in the atmosphere - a tiny figure that would, however, be larger than the one here on earth. Most of the gas here is produced by life or from human technology, as in hydrogen phosphide that is used in the agricultural industry.

        https://phys.org/news/2020-09-venus-harbour-life.html
        It would not be that surprising if they confirm the existence of microbial life in the Venusian atmosphere.

        What would be amazing is if it turned out to be unrelated to life on Earth.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Stoic View Post

          It would not be that surprising if they confirm the existence of microbial life in the Venusian atmosphere.
          I am merely an interested layperson but from what I have read it seems they may well do so.

          Originally posted by Stoic View Post
          What would be amazing is if it turned out to be unrelated to life on Earth.
          Indeed.

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