José Manuel NievesSEGUIRMadrid Updated: Save Send news by mail electrónicoTu name *

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thousands of millions of years, when the Solar System was still very young, one of their planets was enjoying a temperate climate, with blue skies and large amounts of running water, and forming seas and rivers across its surface. But that privileged world was not the Earth, but Venus.

Today, however, things are very different. It is the Land that water is available in abundance and enjoys a range of temperatures that make possible the flourishing of life, while Venus has become a real hell, with temperatures reaching 450 degrees, and with a poisonous atmosphere formed primarily by carbon dioxide and nitrogen. But what was it that made the change happen so drastically?

Planets twins

Both Venus and the Earth, they have a size very similar, and also share mass and volume. That is why it is considered as “planets twins”. But given their current conditions, to decipher how it was Venus in the past is not a simple task. We know, for example, that its present surface is relatively young, “only” between 300 million and 700 million years, and the data collected by the space missions that have visited up to now suggest that, at some time, the atmosphere had much more water than it contains today.

For all we know, Venus could have hosted plenty of to gua liquid on its surface , and having tectonic plates and temperate climate and stable. Some studies indicate that the climate of Venus may have been even more stable than the early Earth, where the vagaries of climate led to long periods of extreme heat alternating with others so cold that they came to convert, on several occasions, in a gigantic “ball of snow” , with its poles of ice cream extending over the entire surface until touching at the equator.

There are several theories that attempt to explain what led to the dramatic transformation of Venus. Some point to a gradual warming of the Sun, which would have overheated the planet after you have allowed it to enjoy a brief period of habitability; other speak of the sudden appearance from the inside, some 4,000 million years ago, an entire ocean of magma and gases of greenhouse effect that would have completely changed, leaving it in its current state.

Extensive ocean

And now, in a new study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, Michael J. Way, and Anthony D. Del Genio, researchers at the Goddard Institute of Space Studies of NASA, have presented evidence that a vast ocean of shallow water, next to conditions for life , could have persisted on Venus for at least 3000 million years, and until relatively recent times , until several large provinces, magmatic, or igneous (called IPM for its acronym in English), emerged at the same time from the depths of finishing a single stroke with the long-period temperate.

The researchers carried out several computer simulations of the history of Venus using a model of the NASA (ROCKE-3D) to examine how variations in the speed of rotation of the planet and the water levels of its surface could have influenced its climate primitive. Thus, and assuming that the early atmosphere of Venus was cold and rich in carbon (such as that of the early Earth) and that its speed of rotation was slow, Way and The Genius is discovered that the climate of Venus could have remained stable for the better part of 4,000 million years of history. Which openly rejects the theory of the gradual warming of the Sun.

According to the researchers, the eruptions are simultaneous in the major provinces igneous took place in recent times, during the past hundreds of millions of years. And could have caused a greenhouse effect runaway by releasing almost simultaneously, enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The surface, therefore, is dried up, and that could have led Venus to a new kind of dynamic between the interior and the exterior of the planet, with the appearance on the surface of large masses of basalts, which is what we see today, able to act as efficient “sinks” of oxygen.

As on Earth

The phenomenon, although not so drastic, it has also happened in the Earth. Here, in effect, the large provinces igneous have been arising sequentially in a random process, and not all at the same time. Which, according to the authors “it was a lucky for life as we know it today.”

all in all, it is not yet known enough about the inside of Venus so as to ensure that its final state, uninhabitable, is the direct product of these internal processes. In similar circumstances, what would have happened the same in other similar planets, including Earth? Researchers need to further study the surface of Venus for the answer to this question.

A better knowledge of the history of our sister planet will provide, in addition, valuable information about the processes to which they are subjected exoplanets, terrestrial, whose periods of occupancy could be much longer than what is believed today.