Venus found to have aurora type magnetotails

Apr 06, 2012 by Bob Yirka report
Venus. Photo courtesy of NASA

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers studying the planet Venus have found that despite a lack of a magnetic field, the planet has magnetotails, which on Earth are part of the process known as the Northern and Southern Lights. This, as the team describes in their paper published in Science, is due to the solar wind interacting with the planet's ionosphere.

On Earth and other planets that do have a magnetic field, solar wind is deflected by the magnetism that surrounds the planet into the causing magnetic lines of force to break and reconnect, resulting in the show of lights in the called an aurora. This process known as magnetic reconnection also causes the creation of magnetotails, or elongated stretches of the magnetosphere on the lee side of planets. This new research shows that Venus too has such magnetogtails, though the process of their creation is different.

In analyzing data obtained from Venus Express, the probe sent by the , the researchers found that on Venus, the solar wind reacts with the ions in its and in one instance resulted in what they describe as a magnetic plasma bubble stretching for some 2100 miles and lasting for just over a minute and a half. This they say is also an example of magnetic reconnection, albeit, one of a different kind.

For years, researches have puzzled over mysterious flashes of light coming from Venus, and some have even speculated that they might be caused by magnetic reconnection, but until now lacked evidence. This new research adds strong credence to that theory and may also explain how some comet tails manage to disengage from their heads.

As for whether the light generated by such instances of on Venus can truly be called an aurora, that remains up for debate. On Earth the Northern and Southern lights, also known as and aurora australis are named after the Roman goddess of dawn and thus are not tied to any specific scientific phenomenon, so it wouldn’t seem to be a stretch to use the same term for a similar effect discovered on another planet.

Explore further: Why is Venus so horrible?

More information: Magnetic Reconnection in the Near Venusian Magnetotail, Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1217013

ABSTRACT
Observations with the Venus Express magnetometer and low-energy particle detector revealed magnetic field and plasma behavior in the near-Venus wake symptomatic of magnetic reconnection, a process that occurs in the Earth’s magnetotail but is not expected in the magnetotail of a non-magnetized planet like Venus. On 15 May 2006, the plasma flow in this region was toward the planet and the magnetic field component transverse to the flow was reversed. Magnetic reconnection is a plasma process that changes the topology of the magnetic field and results in energy exchange between the magnetic field and the plasma. Thus, the energetics of the Venus magnetotail resembles that of the terrestrial tail where energy is stored and later released from the magnetic field to the plasma.

Related Stories

Space weather: Explosions on Venus

Mar 05, 2012

In the grand scheme of the solar system, Venus and Earth are almost the same distance from the sun. Yet the planets differ dramatically: Venus is some 100 times hotter than Earth and its days more than 200 ...

NASA Satellites Discover What Powers Northern Lights

Jul 24, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers using a fleet of five NASA satellites have discovered that explosions of magnetic energy a third of the way to the moon power substorms that cause sudden brightenings and rapid movements of the ...

Recommended for you

SDO captures images of two mid-level flares

14 hours ago

The sun emitted a mid-level flare on Dec. 18, 2014, at 4:58 p.m. EST. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured an image of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts ...

Why is Venus so horrible?

21 hours ago

Venus sucks. Seriously, it's the worst. The global temperature is as hot as an oven, the atmospheric pressure is 90 times Earth, and it rains sulfuric acid. Every part of the surface of Venus would kill you ...

Image: Christmas wrapping the Sentinel-3A antenna

23 hours ago

The moment a team of technicians, gowned like hospital surgeons, wraps the Sentinel-3A radar altimeter in multilayer insulation to protect it from the temperature extremes found in Earth orbit.

Video: Flying over Becquerel

23 hours ago

This latest release from the camera on ESA's Mars Express is a simulated flight over the Becquerel crater, showing large-scale deposits of sedimentary material.

Spinning up a dust devil on Mars

Dec 19, 2014

Spinning up a dust devil in the thin air of Mars requires a stronger updraft than is needed to create a similar vortex on Earth, according to research at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

barakn
5 / 5 (1) Apr 06, 2012
Researchers studying the planet Venus have found that despite a lack of a magnetic field,...
They mean it lacks an internally generated field. It certainly does have an induced field.
HannesAlfven
1.8 / 5 (5) Apr 06, 2012
Re: "This new research adds strong credence to that theory and may also explain how some comet tails manage to disengage from their heads."

Perhaps, but journalists covering magnetic reconnection continue to ignore the fact that magnetic reconnection experiments stop functioning once the electrical current to them is shut off. In other words, this theory which purports to explain magnetic fields without recourse to electrical currents, relies upon experiments which require electrical currents in order to work.

It just goes to show how tangled of a mess astrophysics has become. Laboratory plasma physicists don't need magnetic reconnection to explain laboratory plasmas. Magnetic reconnection is redundant of Birkeland Currents. This is explained very clearly by Don Scott online, and in his book, The Electric Sky.

Reconnection is useful to astrophysicists because it helps them to explain the inverse temperature-enigma at the corona w/o formulating a new scientific framework.
vidyunmaya
1 / 5 (2) Apr 07, 2012
Sub: In-adequacy of Perception-Cosmology best of brains Trust
Importance of Venus seems to have been neglected- Magnetic reconnection must be linked to Human being -Environment- space baby concept and see Flow analysis further up beyond Sun.Plasma regulated Electromagnetic Phenomena in magnetic Field environment -starts from venus for uplink mode sudies.
See projections in my bookshttp://archive.or...-96228-0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.