An unusual giant “wall” of clouds discovered on Venus

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(ORDO NEWS) — Astronomers believe that this discovery will help solve the mystery of the modern appearance of Venus.

The Akatsuki interplanetary station discovered in the atmosphere of Venus a mysterious gigantic structure – a kind of “wall” of clouds 7.5 thousand km long. It moves along the planet’s equator at a speed of 320 km / h. The results of the study were published by Geophysical Research Letters.

“There are no analogues of this atmospheric phenomenon on any other planet. Therefore, we cannot yet explain why it occurs. On the other hand, we are confident that this Akatsuki discovery will help us solve the mystery of the current appearance of Venus,” said one from the authors of the article, planetary scientist at the Japan Aerospace Agency (JAXA) Javier Peralta.

Despite the composition and size similar to Earth, Venus differs from our planet in appearance and surface conditions. In particular, its atmosphere is highly dense and consists of carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid heated to ultra-high temperatures. Its air shell rotates 60 times faster than the planet’s surface, which is why winds on Venus blow at speeds of up to 500 km / h.

Due to the unusual properties of the planet’s atmosphere, mysterious giant structures appear in it. Scientists cannot yet fully explain how they are formed and why they exist for a long time. The first of them, shaped like a giant Y, was discovered by scientists back in the 1960s with ground-based ultraviolet telescopes. Subsequently, in 1974, it was studied in detail by the Mariner-10 probe.

The other two – spiral cloud clusters at the Venus pole and a bizarre standing wave 10,000 km long – were found by astronomers quite recently, after the Japanese Akatsuki probe, specially created to study the atmosphere of Venus, entered its orbit in December 2015 …

New mysteries of Venus

Studying the lower layers of the Venusian atmosphere with the Akatsuki infrared cameras, Peralta and his colleagues discovered another unique feature of the atmosphere. This densest and hottest part of the atmosphere of Venus, as the planetary scientist explains, has hardly been studied in the past due to the fact that it is hidden from observers by a thick layer of clouds.

In the Akatsuki images, scientists discovered a mysterious dark arcuate line that began in the middle latitudes of the northern hemisphere and stretched to the southern. It quickly moved westward, circling all of Venus in about 5-6 days, while changing the properties of the surrounding atmosphere.

Having discovered this unusual phenomenon, scientists analyzed infrared images of Venus of the past years, which were made by ground-based and orbiting telescopes. Much to the surprise of scientists, this “wall” of clouds was on all of them, including the photographs of the Australian AAT telescope, which he took in 1984.

What it is, planetary scientists cannot yet say. However, they suggest that this wall of clouds was formed by the so-called Kelvin waves, which arise from the interaction of irregularities on the planet’s surface and the moving atmosphere. If so, then this phenomenon plays an important role in the “pumping” of energy from the lower layers of the Venusian atmosphere to its upper layers. This may explain its high temperature and speed.

In the near future, astronomers will try to check whether this is so or not, while simultaneously observing the “wall of clouds” using ground-based telescopes and Akatsuki instruments.


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