All planets spin on an orbit around the sun at different rotation speeds. Of course, these vary from one planet to another, but they might vary even when it comes to the same cosmic body. Researchers have discovered the Venus spin is quite odd, as it occurs at a variable rate. It turns out the atmosphere is to blame, as it spins at a bigger speed than the planet and pushes against its mountains.
The Venus spin moves the planet forward in time
Researchers have noticed the Venus spin does not act like it should, so they decided to investigate. They performed computer simulations of its rotation, as well as of the movements of the atmosphere. The latter moves around the planet at speeds of 100 meters per second.
Apparently, this movement is enough to disrupt the entire rotation spin of the planet. Given its speed, the atmosphere affects the planet by pushing it on the mountainous side and pulling it on the opposite site. This, of course, ends up affecting the general Venus spin by increasing its rotation rate. Every day, the overall rotation rate gains two minutes.
The phenomenon is the result of the atmosphere’s rotation speed
While it sounds like a major change, it’s not so much of a disruption. To understand this, we can compare it with Earth. One complete Venus rotation coincides to 243 Earth days, while its atmosphere performs a rotation in four days on Earth.
Researchers have performed various measurements of the rotation, obtaining varying results by about seven minutes. However, this is easy to explain as well. This continuous effect of the atmosphere must have pushed the planet forward in time, while a gravitational pull from the sun brought it backwards.
The first time researchers noticed the strange Venus spin was in 2015. Back then, they identified a wave across the atmosphere of the planet measuring 10,000 kilometers. Such waves are present on Earth as well, whenever wind is flowing near mountains. Here, the waves can easily break. However, the huge speed of Venus’ atmosphere keeps the wave intact while affecting the planet’s rotation.
The study was published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
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