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Astronomers are investigating if life is floating in the clouds of Venus

Astronomers are investigating if life is floating in the clouds of Venus

Scientists say they have detected a gas called phosphine, in the harshly acidic clouds of Venus, that indicates microbes may inhabit the inhospitable planet.

The researchers did not discover actual life forms but noted that on earth phosphine is produced by bacteria thriving in oxygen-starved environments.

The international scientific team first spotted the phosphine using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii and confirmed it using the Atacama LargeMillimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope in Chile.

"I was very surprised - stunned, in fact," said astronomer Jane Greaves of Cardiff University in Wales, lead author of the research published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

The existence of extraterrestrial life long has been one of the paramount questions of science.

Scientists have used probes and telescopes to seek "biosignatures" - indirect signs of life - on other planets and moons in our solar system and beyond.

AAP

Image: Wikimedia Commons