June 28, 2022

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The reason why Venus rotates backwards from the other planets

The reason why Venus rotates backwards from the other planets

A sequence of images showing the transit of Venus in front of the Sun.

A sequence of images showing the transit of Venus in front of the Sun.
picture: NASA/SDO

All the planets of the solar system rotate from east to west (counterclockwise if we are observing them from the North Pole and keeping the tilt of Uranus). All but one. Venus rotates from west to east, and in fact it should not rotate. A new study believes that the reason is its strong atmosphere.

The retrograde rotation of the flower is also very slow. One Venus day equals no less than 243,187 Earth days. Until now, the cause of this strange rotation was unknown, but a new study was published in natural astronomy Refers to its dense atmosphere. Stephen R. Keane of the University of California Riverside’s Planetary Science Laboratory and lead author of the study believes that the atmosphere that blankets Venus and makes it uninhabitable is also responsible for its rotation against the force of the Sun itself.

Venus takes 234 days to complete a revolution around itself, but its atmosphere, driven by strong upper air winds, completes a revolution around the planet in just four days. This speed is surprising given that Venus’ atmosphere, made of carbon dioxide and nitrogen, is not entirely light. Its density is so high that the atmospheric pressure at the surface is ninety times greater than that on Earth and similar to what we might see 1 km below the ocean. The ocean temperature is only 464 degrees Celsius (enough to melt lead).

“It’s an incredibly strange place, a completely different experience from being on Earth,” says Kane. “Being on the surface of Venus is like being at the bottom of a very hot ocean.”

The atmosphere and its rapid movement are the origin of the rapid global warming effect that makes Venus the inferno, it is a planet much hotter than Mercury despite being twice as far from the sun as Mercury because it receives only 25% of the solar radiation it receives. Mercury. However, Kane’s calculations led him to suspect that the atmosphere is also what causes Venus to rotate in this way rather than undergo tidal conjunction.

An image of Venus taken by Japan's Akatsuki probe in 2010.

An image of Venus taken by Japan’s Akatsuki probe in 2010.
picture: JAXA / NASA / JPL Caltech

“Venus’s strong atmosphere teaches us that it is an even more integral part of the planet, and that it affects absolutely everything, including the way the planet rotates,” he adds.

What if a flower did not have this atmosphere? Well, maybe it was a rocky, atmosphere-free world very similar to Mercury. Planets that are very close to their stars suffer from a phenomenon known as tidal coupling, or synchronous rotation. What happens is that the rotation of the planet is synchronized with its translation so that the same face is always directed towards the sun and the other is in the shadows forever. This situation usually results in the stripping of solar radiation from the planet’s atmosphere to the point of disappearance or generating a runaway greenhouse effect like Venus. What we don’t know is whether the current situation on Venus began as a result of the influence of tidal conjunction, or were internal causes that created a brutal atmosphere that prevents the planet from coalescing like Mercury.

Why is all this important? Well, because it provides us with data by which we can understand the mechanisms that might occur on potentially habitable exoplanets. Many of the rocky worlds that we find in the habitable zone of other solar systems suffer from tidal coupling. This is the case of Proxima Centauri B or from Kepler-1649b. Understanding how this coupling affects the atmosphere will allow us to better select candidates for future exploration.[[[[natural astronomy via University of California Riverside]

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