As a result of Jupiter — the largest planet in our solar system — moving closer and then away from the sun in its early formation, the planet’s vast gravitational pull effectively killed off Venus’ potentially Earth-like environment, the authors of a study published in the Planetary Science Journal found.
Venus is the second closest planet to the sun, and now has a surface temperature of about 880 degrees Fahrenheit (471 degrees Celsius) — above the melting point of lead, according to NASA. This is hotter than Mercury, despite Mercury being closer to the sun.
Researchers from the University of California, Riverside (UCR) said that Jupiter’s movement likely accelerated Venus’ fate as an inhospitable planet.
“As Jupiter migrated, Venus would have gone through dramatic changes in climate, heating up then cooling off and increasingly losing its water into the atmosphere,” said Stephen Kane, UCR astrobiologist, in a statement Wednesday.