Japanese astronomers have discovered a massive gravity wave above the cloud layer over Venus. Japan’s Akatsuki orbiter recorded this cosmic phenomenon, not long after it entered Venus’ orbit in December 2015. Scientists, however, cautioned that gravity wave is far different from gravitational wave, with the former being more common.
Unlike gravitational wave, which can be extremely catastrophic by definition, gravity wave, on the other hand, happens more frequently. In fact, it can be observed over the clouds even without using any instrument. One common reason behind gravity wave is when the planet’s atmosphere or body of water is disturbed.
What Causes Gravity Wave?
As a direct result of the disturbance, its gravity, then attempts to create equilibrium—a state of balance. In Venus’ case, the disturbance has created a wind fanning up to 200 miles per hour. This whipping wind resulted in a massive wave reaching more than 6,000 miles, as discussed by the researchers in a study published in the journal Nature.
Satellite images obtained by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) orbiter revealed that the wave has nearly reached the planet’s two poles. It noted that the Venus’ current atmosphere is at ‘super-rotation’ state, where it moves way faster than the planet’s. Scientists believe that the massive wave in Venus’ clouds is caused by the gravity wave.
What Scientists Have Found
“Over several days of observation, the bow-shaped structure remained relatively fixed in position above the highland on the slowly rotating surface, despite the background atmospheric super rotation. We suggest that the bow-shaped structure is the result of an atmospheric gravity wave generated in the lower atmosphere by mountain topography that then propagated upwards,” an excerpt of the study stated.
It was reported that the curve wave was observed only four days when the Akatsuki mission began their exploration. But when they returned a month after, the waves have already disappeared. It appeared that it was not the first time that such occurrence happened on Venus as a similar event has been observed by the European Space Agency before. The team has also identified that wind in the deep atmosphere is more temporary than previously thought.
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