(ORDO NEWS) — Deep in the thick, poisonous clouds that envelop Venus, the atmosphere behaves in a very strange way. A giant, previously unknown planetary-scale cloud wall has been moving westward around the planet every 4.9 days – and has been doing so since 1983.
It extends up to 7,500 kilometers in length, passing through the equator, both north and south mid-latitudes, at relatively low altitudes ranging from 47.5 to 56.5 kilometers. This phenomenon has never been observed anywhere in the solar system.
“If this happened on Earth, the structure would affect the entire planet,” said astrophysicist Pedro Machado of the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences in Portugal.
Venus is completely covered in a dense atmosphere, almost entirely composed of carbon dioxide, which rotates 60 times faster than the planet itself, creating insane winds.
The planet is raining sulfuric acid, and its atmospheric pressure is almost 100 times that of Earth. If that’s not enough, the average surface temperature is 471 degrees Celsius.
The cloudy atmosphere is an enchanting place prone to huge waves. The 10,000-kilometer-long arcuate structure that comes and goes into the upper atmosphere is a stationary gravitational wave believed to be created by a rotating atmosphere colliding with mountains on the surface. Another Y-shaped wave that surrounds the planet in the upper cloud layers is a wave distorted by the powerful winds of Venus.
But that is not all. When studying infrared images taken by the Japanese orbiter Akatsuki between 2016 and 2018, a team of researchers led by physicist Javier Peralta of the Japan Space Agency (JAXA) discovered a feature that is very similar to an atmospheric wave, but is at an unprecedented height …
The newly discovered wave is much wider than any atmospheric wave ever seen on Venus, originating in the cloud layer responsible for the greenhouse effect that makes the surface so hot.
The researchers found that the wave extends up to 7,500 kilometers and rotates around the planet every 4.9 days at a speed of about 328 kilometers per hour. This is slightly faster than clouds at this level, which have a rotation period of about 5.7 days.
And it is still unknown what causes it.
“This atmospheric disturbance is a new meteorological phenomenon never before seen on other planets. Because of this, it is difficult to give a confident physical interpretation yet, ”Peralta said.
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