TECH

Astronomers Have Spotted A Massive Bulge In Venus' Atmosphere

It's being caused by a planet-sized gravity wave.

17/01/2017 11:36

Scientists have finally discovered the cause of a massive bulge in Venus’ atmosphere.

It is being caused by what is almost certainly the largest gravity wave we’ve ever seen in the Solar System.

Stretching a staggering 10,000 miles in length, this phenomenon can be compared to the way rocks on a river bed cause ripples on the water’s surface.

Nature Geosciene

Except of course in this instance we’re not talking about a riverbed, but an entire planet.

Captured by the Japanese spacecraft Akatsuki in 2015, the giant gravity way is caused as Venus’ lower atmosphere strikes a vast mountain range on the surface of the planet.

As the fast moving atmosphere hits the surface it creates a planet-wide ripple that shoots upwards into Venus’ upper atmosphere.

Scientists from Rikkyo University in Japan first became curious after they noticed that the bow was stationary. This didn’t make sense for the simple reason that Venus’ upper atmosphere moves at a staggering 100 metres per second.

For the bow to remain in the same place then it was only natural that something was causing it further down in the atmosphere.

Time Life Pictures via Getty Images

Venus is often referred to as Earth’s ‘Evil Twin’ thanks to the fact that scientists believe that at some point in Venus’ past it wasn’t that different from Earth.

Unfortunately that time has passed and what remains is a hellish landscape of thick foggy atmosphere and a mountainous surface that can reach temperatures of over 400 degrees.

The Soviet Union was actually able to send several probes to the surface of the planet and were even able to send over a couple of pictures.

SVF2 via Getty Images
Soviet space probe venera 13 being worked on in the assembly and testing shop, 1981.

Best Astronomy Photographer of the Year:

  • 14
    Stephen Voss
    Auroral Nuggets
  • 13
    Richard Inman
    Antarctic Space Station
  • 12
    Rick Whitacre
    Between the Rocks
  • 11
    Tommy Richardson
    Crystal Brilliance
  • 10
    Nicholas Roemmelt
    Frozen Giant
  • 9
    Philippe Jacquot
    ISS under Venus and the Moon
  • 8
    Ivan Eder
    M8 Lagoon Nebula
  • 7
    Giles Rocholl
    The northern lights illuminate the lagoon at Jokulsarlon, Iceland photo tour, February 2016
  • 6
    Sean Goebel
    Parallel Mountains
  • 5
    Lee Cook
    Alone
  • 4
    Katherine Young
    Rise Lunation
  • 3
    Rune Engebø
    Seven Magic Points
  • 2
    Melanie Thorne
    The Diamond Ring
  • 1
    Michael Jäeger
    The Disconnection Event
Suggest a correction
Comments

CONVERSATIONS