2020 was a busy year for those who like the mysteries of space. We had cryptic sounds from the sky early in the pandemic, American military personnel revealing official details about UFO sightings, new missions leaving in search of intelligent life on other planets and more.
It was also a year marked by the emergence of mysterious monoliths in the United States and other countries, which came to be attributed to aliens, and an important discovery in relation to the planet Venus. But confirmation of the existence of life outside of Earth has not come, despite numerous technological advances.
Below, we recall some of the main discoveries about aliens in 2020.
Is there life on Venus?
On September 14, researchers at the British institution Royal Astronomical Society announced the discovery of potential signs of microbial life on Venus. In the study, traces of phosphine were detected in the planet’s atmosphere, a substance that on Earth is associated with the presence of bacteria and human activities.
The announcement caused quite a stir in the general public, but shortly afterwards some scientists treated the discovery with greater skepticism, saying that much broader research was needed to confirm the existence of phosphine there and also its origin – if it comes of some mysterious life breathing in the clouds of Venus, for example.
FRBs are not signs of ETs
Rapid bursts of radio (FRBs) have always been a great mystery to science. In the midst of several theories about the origin of the phenomenon, some researchers always mention the possibility that they may be emitted by extraterrestrial spaceships traveling at extremely high speeds or originating from some other intelligent source.
But after astronomers successfully tracked down one of these blasts to their source in the Milky Way, that theory has already begun to be discarded, at least in this specific case. The FRB in question was emitted by a magnetar, class of star with a very powerful magnetic field, capable of radiating X-rays and gamma rays through space at random intervals.
Oumuamua was probably not sent by aliens
The mysterious cigar-shaped space rock, which has intrigued scientists since its discovery in 2017, has often been presented as an alien spaceship due to its peculiar characteristics. However, new theories that emerged in 2020 may have put an end to this type of speculation.
One study claims that Oumuamua is a “hydrogen iceberg”, a solid piece of gas that would have moved away from its star and captured by a giant molecular cloud. After leaving this cloud, it gained the elongated shape due to the contact with radiation, and when entering the Solar System it started the evaporation of hydrogen, accelerating the object, according to the research.
Most promising places to shelter life off Earth
What are the most promising worlds to host extraterrestrial life? Several studies published throughout the year have pointed out four places, starting with Mars, which had a large lake detected in its southern polar cap, raising hopes of tiny microbes inhabiting that region.