Academic journal article Science Scope

Strong 'Electric Wind' Strips Planets of Oceans and Atmospheres

Academic journal article Science Scope

Strong 'Electric Wind' Strips Planets of Oceans and Atmospheres

Article excerpt

Venus has an "electric wind" strong enough to remove the components of water from its upper atmosphere and the wind may have played a significant role in stripping the planet of its oceans, according to a new study.

The study discovered that Venus's electric field is so strong that it can accelerate the heavy, electrically charged component of water--oxygen--to speeds fast enough to escape the planet's gravity. When water molecules rise into the upper atmosphere, sunlight breaks the water into hydrogen ions, which are fast and escape easily. Heavier oxygen ions are carried away by the electric field.

Venus is the planet most like Earth in terms of its size and gravity, and evidence suggests it once had oceans worth of water that boiled away to steam long ago, with surface temperatures of around 860[degrees]F (460[degrees]C). Yet Venus's thick atmosphere, about 100 times the pressure of Earth's, has 10,000 to 100,000 times less water than Earth's atmosphere, suggesting something removed all the steam. Scientists thought it was the solar wind slowly eroding the remainder of an ocean's worth of oxygen and water from Venus's upper atmosphere, but the new findings suggest it was an aggressive electric wind instead. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.