Venus on Siggling ‘Life’ Signal Plain Old Sulfur Dioxide, New Research Signs

The night side of Venus seen in thermal infrared.

The night side of Venus seen in thermal infrared.
The image: JAXA / ISAS / DARTS / Damia Bouick

Scientists shocked the world for the last timeCannes by claiming to find Marks of phosphine In the Venusian clouds. New research shows about this gas – which is excitingIs produced by microbes-He is not actually responsible for the detected signal. Instead, it was probably sulfur dioxide, a no-thrill chemical.

Extraordinary The research An example of which is currently being challenged to be published in Nature last September from a paper set to be published in The Astrophysical Journal available on arXiv. This is not the first paper Critic Explicit discovery of phosphine on Venus, and it is probably not the last.

The phosphine present on Venus was a revelation that blew our minds, and that’s because living organisms are one of the known sources of smelly gas. The team responsible for the apparent discovery, led by astronomer Jane Greaves of Cardiff University, found evidence in the spectral signals collected by two radio dishes: the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) and the Atacam Large Millimeter / Submillimeter Array (ALMA). Spectral lines at certain wavelengths indicate the presence of specific chemicals, and in this case they infer the presence of phosphine in the cloudy layer of Venus.

The authors of the nature study were not claiming that life exists on Venus. Rather, they were asking the scientific community to explain their bizarre observations. In fact, this was an extraordinary claim, as it was implied that Venus – one of the most inhuman planets in the solar system – might actually be habitable, with microbes floating through the clouds.

Alas, this does not seem to be the case.

“Instead of phosphine in Venus’ clouds, the data are consistent with an alternative hypothesis: they were detecting sulfur dioxide,” reported Victoria Meadows, co-author of the University of Washington and an astronomer professor at the University of Washington. Statement. “Sulfur dioxide is the third most common chemical compound in Venus’s atmosphere, and is not considered a sign of life.”

Meadows, along with researchers at NASA, Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of California, Riverside, came to this conclusion from the modeling situation inside the Venusian atmosphere to re-interpret the radio data they had collected by the original team .

“This is known as a radiation transfer model, and it incorporates data of Venus’s value from multiple sources over several decades, including observatories on Earth and spacecraft missions such as the Venus Express,” Andrew, a researcher with UW Linkowski explained. Department of Astronomy and lead author of the paper.

Equipped with the model, the researchers simulated spectral lines produced by phosphine and sulfur at several atmospheric altitudes on Venus, as well as how those signals were received by ALMA and JCMT. Results showed that the size of the signal, detected at 266.94 GHz, likely came from the Venusian mesosphere – an extreme altitude where sulfur dioxide may be present but not phosphine due to harsh conditions, according to research. In fact, so extreme is the atmosphere that phosphine will not last more than a few seconds.

As the authors argue, the original researchers understood the amount of sulfur dioxide in Venus’s atmosphere and instead attributed phosphine to a 266.94 GHz signal (both phosphine and sulfur dioxide absorb radio waves around this frequency). This was due to an “undesirable side-effect” of the spectral line weakening, according to the researchers, co-author and NASA JPL scientist Alex Akins said in the statement.

“They predict low detection of sulfur dioxide [an] Artificially weak signal from ALMA, ”Lincowski added. “But our modeling suggests that the line-diluted ALMA data would still have been consistent with specific or even large amounts of Venus sulfur dioxide, which could have fully explained the observed JCMT signal.”

This new result could prove disastrous for the Nature paper, and it would be interesting to hear how the authors react to this latest criticism. That said, some scientists believe that the writing is already on the wall, or more accurately, the trash bin.

“Already early after publication of the original work, we and others have placed strong doubts on his analysis,” Professor Ignas Snellen of Leiden University wrote in an email. “Now, I personally feel that this is the final nail in the coffin of the Phosphene hypothesis. Of course, no one can prove that Venus is completely phosphine free, but at least now there is no remaining evidence to suggest otherwise. I’m sure others will keep watching though. “

Back in December, Snellen and his colleagues challenged Nature’s study, arguing that the method used by the Greaves team resulted in a “Spurius” high signal-to-noise ratio and “no statistic” for phosphine on Venus. Proof “does not exist.

The apparent absence of phosphine on Venus, and thus the absence of any sign of microbial life, is far less interesting than the opposite, but it is sometimes so. Science makes no claims or promises about the interestingness of all things, and we, as defenders of the scientific method, must accept the universe that comes before us as we seek it.


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