July 13, 2021, 17:24 GMT
“Phosphene doesn’t tell us about the biology of Venus. It tells us about the geology,” says Jonathan Lunin, co-author of the new study.
at a study Recently published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a group of researchers suggested that the putative phosphine (a poisonous gas produced almost exclusively by anaerobic microorganisms) discoverer Last year in the atmosphere of Venus it can have its origin in the eruption of active volcanoes and not in biological processes.
“Phosphene does not tell us about the biology of the flower,” He said Jonathan Lunin, chair of the Department of Astronomy at Cornell University (USA) and co-author of the new study. “He’s talking about geology. Science refers to a planet with active eruptive volcanic activity today or possibly in the recent past.”
The scientific community has long wondered whether Venus has active volcanoes, and the fact that Venus’s atmosphere is so dense has made it very difficult to observe tectonics. To date, the best images of the surface of Venus have been obtained by probes from the Soviet Venera program between the 1960s and 1980s, as well as some radar scans taken by the Magellan probe in the 1990s.
However, by analyzing data collected by the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, the Chilean ALMA Telescope Network, and the Magellan Probe, researchers have discovered geological features that would indicate volcanic activity on Venus.
The study suggests that the deep mantle of Venus could contain phosphorous compounds called phosphides, which would be expelled into the atmosphere by the planet’s volcanoes, and which are as powerful as the eruption of Krakatoa or even the supervolcano of Yellowstone. Once in the atmosphere, “the phosphatides react with sulfuric acid in the aerosol layer and produce phosphine.”
“We concluded that volcanoes can provide sufficient amount of phosphide to produce phosphine,” the researchers noted.
However, these arguments do not convince Clara Souza Silva, a quantum astrochemist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who Confirms That “the reaction of mineral phosphate with concentrated sulfuric acid will not necessarily produce phosphine (…) and the possible result of the reaction of phosphate with concentrated sulfuric acid will be an oxidation reaction and not the production of phosphine.”
Souza Silva, who also previously surveyed the atmosphere of Venus and other planets for possible signs of life, added that there are non-biogenic methods of phosphine formation, including volcanism, but that “these pathways are extremely rare and ineffective.”