If not for the soupy, fast-moving atmosphere on Venus, Globe’s sister planet would likely not really rotate.
Instead, Venus would be locked in place, always dealing with the sun the way the same part of the moon always looks Earth.
The particular gravity of a large item in space can keep an inferior object from spinning, the phenomenon called tidal locking. Because it prevents this securing, a UC Riverside scientist argues the environment needs to be an even more prominent factor in studies of Venus as well as other planets.
These arguments, in addition to descriptions of Venus as a partially tidally locked planet, were published today within a Nature Astronomy article.
“ We think from the atmosphere as a thin, almost separate layer on top of a planet that has minimal discussion with the solid planet, ” said Stephen Kane, UCR astrophysicist and lead document author. “ Venus’ powerful atmosphere teaches us it’s far a much more integrated part of the earth that affects absolutely everything, even how fast the entire world rotates. ”
Venus takes 243 World days to rotate 1 time, but its atmosphere circulates our planet every four days. Extremely fast winds cause the environment to drag along the surface of the planet as it circulates, decreasing its rotation while also loosening the grip of the sun’s gravity.
Slow rotation in turn provides dramatic consequences for the extreme Venusian climate, with typical temperatures of up to 900 levels Fahrenheit— hot enough to melt lead.
“ It’s incredibly alien, a wildly different encounter than being on Earth, ” Kane said. “ Standing on the surface of Venus will be like standing at the bottom of a very hot ocean. You couldn’t breathe on it. ”
One reason for heat is that nearly all of the sun’s energy absorbed by the planet is soaked up by Venus’ atmosphere, never reaching the surface. This means that a rover with solar panels like the one NASA delivered to Mars wouldn’t work.
It is unclear whether being partly tidally locked contributes to this particular runaway greenhouse state, an ailment which ultimately renders a planet uninhabitable by living as we know it.
Not only is it important to gain clearness on this question to understand Morgenstern, it is important for studying the exoplanets likely to be targeted meant for future NASA missions.
Most of the planets likely to be observed with the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope are very close to their superstars, even closer than Venus is to the sun. Therefore , they may also likely to be tidally secured.
Since human beings may never be able to visit exoplanets in person, making sure computer models account for the effects of tidal locking is critical. “ Morgenstern is our opportunity to get these models correct, and we can properly understand the surface environments of exoplanets around some other stars, ” Kane mentioned.
“ We aren’t doing a good job of considering this right now. We are going to mostly using Earth-type models to interpret the properties of exoplanets. Venus is certainly waving both arms around saying, ‘ look over right here! ‘”
Gaining clarity about the factors that contributed to a runaway greenhouse state on Venus, Earth’s closest planetary neighbor, may also help improve models of what could one day happen to Earth’s climate.
“ Eventually, my motivation in studying Venus is to better be familiar with Earth, ” Kane mentioned.