Their best guess is that the unusual, 10,000-km (6,214-mile) structure is the result of what could be the largest gravity wave ever witnessed in the Solar System, but there's one problem - scientists didn't think gravity waves could form this high up in the atmosphere.
Scientists have finally discovered the cause of a massive bulge in Venus' atmosphere.
And as fast as those acid clouds are, the planet's rotation is painfully slow - one day on Venus lasts longer than it takes for the planet to complete its orbit of the Sun. The feature, related to atmospheric flow over mountains, has nothing to do with the similarly named "gravitational wave", which refers to space-time ripples in the early universe.
The Japanese probe Akatsuki has observed a massive gravity wave in the atmosphere of Venus.
(Winds blast clouds around Venus at approximately 225 miles per hour.) The "wave" shape formed as gravity tugged at and settled the clouds back into their original equilibrium east of the mountains.
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"The present study shows direct evidence of the existence of stationary gravity waves, and it further shows that such stationary gravity waves can have a very large scale - perhaps the greatest ever observed in the Solar System", the team reports. The most common way to trigger a vertical wave is by putting something in the way of surface winds, like a mountain. It was a bow-shaped gravity "patch" rippling through the clouds in the planet's upper atmosphere. "It helps us to constrain a lot of the physics that's going on in the deepest parts of the atmosphere, which we don't have information on", Constantine Tsang, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Co. who was not involved in the research, says in a phone interview with the Monitor. "So, to get it working in their model they had to assume a different wind structure than what is conventionally assumed for Venus, otherwise that feature wouldn't have survived to the height of 65 km".
'When an air parcel moves upward, its temperature decreases due to adiabatic cooling.
"Although it is unclear whether gravity waves induced by mountains can readily propagate upwards to the cloud tops of Venus, the observations suggest that the atmospheric dynamics of Venus are more complex at depth than previously appreciated", the journal Nature's statement on the finding said. When scientists attempted to observe it again a month later, it had disappeared. The researchers found that temperatures within the bow were much higher than outside.
An enormous and ominous stationary object has been identified in Venus' atmosphere. However, an image captured by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency caught the mysterious structure when the Akatsuki spacecraft arrived there in December 2015.
This bow-shaped patch is stagnant and is not considered to be a new phenomenon on Venus, just seen for the first time.