Weird wave found in Venus’ wind-whipped atmosphere | Science News

MISSION CRITICAL

Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


How Bizarre

Weird wave found in Venus’ wind-whipped atmosphere

10,000-kilometer-long stationary feature may have been the biggest of its kind in solar system

By
6:11pm, January 17, 2017
Venus' wave

PUT A BOW ON IT  A bow-shaped structure arches vertically across Venus in this infrared image taken with JAXA’s Akatsuki spacecraft. Whiter colors represent warmer temperatures, showing that the odd structure is hotter than other areas of the atmosphere.

With scorching temperatures and a mind-numbingly slow rotation (one Venus day lasts 243 Earth days), Venus was already a contender for weirdest planet in the solar system. Now add a giant arc-shaped structure to its list of oddities. The mysterious 10,000-kilometer-long structure was so big that it appeared to stretch between the planet’s poles. And it didn’t budge, even as winds in the planet’s upper atmosphere whipped along at a brisk 100 meters per second.

The C-shaped structure, which lasted at least four Earth days, could be a gravity wave, a large disturbance in the flow of a fluid or air, scientists say. It may have formed on Venus when winds in the planet’s lower atmosphere slammed into a mountain range and were pushed into the upper atmosphere, where it got stuck, a team of Japanese researchers report January 16 in Nature Geoscience.

Captured in images taken by JAXA

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content