Hurricanes on Venus have changed the planet’s rotation rate

Rodiano Bonacci
Giugno 20, 2018

However, a new study suggests that an unusual weather event could cause the length of a day on our planet's closest neighbor to change by a maximum of two minutes. According to the previous estimations, a revolution of the Venus takes around two hundred forty-three Earth days with a varying rate of rotation. But it also found that, taking these waves into account, the atmosphere could cause a two-Earth-minute fluctuation in how fast Venus rotates on its axis.

This discrepancy led many planetary scientists to believe that the main "brake" the rotation of Venus was not an asteroid, and its "supersonic" atmosphere. The latest study revealed that this formation is, in fact, a "gravity wave" triggered by the connection between the speedy winds and the Venusian mountains.

Such waves, as Navarro explains, typically occur in the earth's atmosphere over a long and high mountain ranges, and exist for a relatively short time.

Venus's days may be getting slightly shorter thanks to a weird mismatch in the rotations of its rocky body and its thick, toxic atmosphere. Its super dense atmosphere, heated to hellish temperatures, rotates 60 times faster than the planet itself, causing super-power of the wind, moving at a speed of 500 kilometers per hour, and a day it lasts longer than a year is 240 and 224 earth days.

Akatsuki, a spacecraft sent by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, captured images of Venus in 2015.

An worldwide team of researchers figured out why changing the speed of rotation of Venus. In such circumstances, the existence of a stable gravitational waves would be impossible. Toward evening, the stability of the atmosphere increases, and when the Sun goes down, the air flow from the foot of the mountains is blocked and the gravitational waves disappear.

The researchers report that the simulation did show a wave formed in the cloud tops, similar to that seen on the actual planet.

The author of the study, Thomas Navarro at the University of California, said in a statement, "Overall, a net force is exerted on the mountain, and the whole solid body follows".

They conducted computer simulations based on the data in space.

However, it should be noted that scientists are not actually measured the change in the length of day. This could help explain why scientists have struggled to pin down a precise measurement of a Venusian day. They call out in their new paper that their model has its limits, and direct observation will be needed to truly know what's happening on Venus.

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