Astronomers have found a possible sign of life in the gasses surrounding Venus, according to a study published Monday.
A pair of telescopes in Hawaii and Chile detected a chemical compound called phosphine in the clouds surrounding the planet, the study published in this month’s Nature Astronomy Journal reported.
Phosphine is a chemical created naturally during the process of breaking down organic matter.
Several experts warned the findings are not proof of life on or near the planet, but are noteworthy nonetheless.
“It’s not a smoking gun,” study co-author David Clements, an Imperial College of London astrophysicist, told The Associated Press. “It’s not even gunshot residue on the hands of your prime suspect, but there is a distinct whiff of cordite in the air which may be suggesting something.”
Clements called Venus “earth’s evil twin,” chemically speaking.
“Venus is hell. Venus is kind of Earth’s evil twin,” Clements said. “Clearly something has gone wrong, very wrong, with Venus. It’s the victim of a runaway greenhouse effect.”
Detection of life on other planets has been a point of focus of astronomers and scientists ever since the first human landed on the moon in the 1960s.
Ellen Stofan, a chief scientist at NASA said in 2015 humans on earth could find life elsewhere in the galaxy by the year 2025.
“I think we’re going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we’re going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years,” Stofan said, according to Space.com. “We know where to look. We know how to look. In most cases we have the technology, and we’re on a path to implementing it. And so I think we’re definitely on the road.”