In September 2020, a team claimed phosphine was on Venus. The researchers reported They discovered the spectral signature of gas in the telescope data. Since some have interpreted this as a sign of potential life – organisms floating in the clouds of Venus could release gas – excitement was reciprocally great, even if there was immediate suspicion.
Since then, several studies have challenged the report, if not refute it completely. The authors, in turn, acknowledged that there were “errors in the original processing of the ALMA data on which the work in this article is based, and that the recalibration of the data has an impact on the conclusions that can be drawn”, as can be read in a note on the paper.
Now another team of scientists has published its largest review yet. “What we’re putting on the table is a big look, and another way to explain this data,” says Victoria Meadows, an astrobiologist at the University of Washington in Seattle who contributed to the new studies. Both papers were accepted for publication by “Astrophysical Journal Letters” and posted on January 26, 2021 on the “arXiv” preprint server.
An alternative explanation is sulfur dioxide
In one study, Meadows and her colleagues analyzed data from one of the telescopes used to claim phosphine. Your presence The spectral signature of the gas could not be detected. On the other hand, the scientists calculated how the gases in Venus’ atmosphere would behave and concluded that what the original team thought was phosphine is actually sulfur dioxide (SO).2) He. Gas occurs and is common on Venus There is no sign of the possibility of life.
“This makes the whole discussion about phosphine and potential life in the atmosphere of Venus largely irrelevant.”
(Ignas Snellen, astronomer)
The current work clearly showed that there is no evidence of the gas, says Ignace Snellen, an astronomer at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. Who also published a critique of the phosphine claim. “This makes the whole discussion about phosphine and potential life in the atmosphere of Venus largely irrelevant.”
She and her colleagues were reading the new work and commenting on it after evaluating it, says Jane Graves. The astronomer from Cardiff University, UK, led the team that made the original phosphine claim.