Our neighboring planet Venus is a whole cradle of mystery. Although it appears as one of the brightest dots during the night sky, you certainly wouldn’t want to spend any vacation on it. Venus’ surface is like a vision of Hell, having an average temperature of 460 degrees.
But the biggest mystery about Venus is not the high-temperature part. Its atmosphere is made of thick layers of sulfuric acid, and it rotates about 60 times faster than the planet itself. While astronomers had been wondering for many years why this phenomenon occurs, they now think they have an answer.
The Sun is the culprit
The heat from the Sun raises the temperatures from the planet’s dayside, and adding the temperature difference with the nightside, atmospheric tidal waves are created. The thermal tides are pushing the atmosphere around the planet, and therefore making it rotate quickly.
A team of scientists from Japan’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Science are the ones unveiling the mystery. They have been investigating the rotating atmosphere of Venus by using data gathered by the Akatsuki spacecraft, which is also known as the Venus Climate Orbiter.
Takeshi Horinouchi of Hokkaido University, who is the lead researcher of the study, says the following:
Our study could help better understand atmospheric systems on tidally-locked exo-planets whose one side always facing the central stars, which is similar to Venus having a very long solar day,
Being the second planet from the Sun, Venus has an orbital period of only 225 days, which is much lower than the one of Earth: 365 days. The name of our neighboring planet comes from the Roman goddess of love and beauty. Venus is the second brightest cosmic object in the night sky after the Moon.
The new discovery of the cause of Venus’ atmosphere rotation was published in the journal Science.