Possible signs of life have been detected on Venus.

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Researchers have spotted phosphine, a rare and toxic gas, in the atmosphere of our neighbouring planet, suggesting that it may be home to alien life.

The discovery is not a direct observation of life on another planet. But the sheer quantity of phosphine on Venus cannot be explained through any known process, leading researchers to suggest that it is a sign of alien life in our solar system.

On Earth, phosphine is one of the most foul-smelling gases, with the odour of rotting fish, and is found in places such as pond slime and penguin dung. While it is made through some industrial processes, it is also created by anaerobic organisms, including bacteria and microbes.

As such, it is thought to be an excellent “biosignature”, or indication of life. Experts have in the past suggested that the discovery of phosphine in large quantities on other rocky planets would be a certain indicator of alien life – and now it has been found on Venus.