Two objects have been seen that could possibly relate to the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, Australian PM Tony Abbott has announced.
Australian vessels have been searching in the southern Indian Ocean for the aircraft, which disappeared on 8 March with 239 people on board.
Mr Abbott said the objects had been identified on satellite imagery.
An Orion aircraft had been sent to the area to try to locate the objects, Mr Abbott told parliament.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it lost contact with air traffic controllers.
Twenty-six nations have been involved in a major search for the missing aircraft.
“The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has received information based on satellite information of objects possibly related to the search,” Mr Abbott said.
“Following specialist analysis of this satellite imagery, two possible objects related to the search have been identified.”
Mt Abbott warned, however, that finding the objects would be very difficult and said they could turn out to be unrelated to the aircraft.
A number of sightings of possible debris have been investigated in the search for the plane but so far none have proved to be related.
Earlier this week, Australia was asked by Malaysia to take responsibility for the “southern corridor” search.
Investigators had identified two arcs of territory – one to the north and one to the south – spanning the possible positions of the plane about seven hours after take-off.
This was based on its last faint signal to a satellite – an hourly “handshake” broadcast even when the main communication systems are switched off.