(ORDO NEWS) — Venus’s atmosphere has a major effect on the planet’s rotation and likely prevented it from falling into tidal lock. An article about this was published in Nature Astronomy.
Gravity can take the planet into a tidal lock, in which the force of gravity keeps one of the sides of the planet turned towards the star or planet, and does not allow it to rotate. Mercury is in a tidal hold, as well as many satellites of the planets, for example, the Moon, Europa, Titan and Charon.
Stephen Cain of the University of California at Riverside and his colleagues proposed a description of Venus as a planet in partial tidal capture.
“We think of the atmosphere as a thin, almost separate layer on top of a planet that has minimal interaction with the solid surface,” Kane says.
“With the powerful Venusian atmosphere, the situation is different, it is an integrated part of the planet that affects everything, even its rotation.”
The pressure of the Venusian atmosphere at the surface is approximately equal to 93 atmospheres, and the temperature exceeds 450 degrees.
Venus completes a full rotation around its axis in 243 Earth days, and its atmosphere in four days. Extremely fast winds drag along the surface of the planet, drag along it, slow down the rotation but, as the scientists write, weaken the grip.
The researchers believe that taking into account the influence of a planet’s massive atmosphere on its rotation is important when studying exoplanets.
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