Often compared to Earth, Venus has a runaway greenhouse effect from too much carbon dioxide. The planet is very similar to Earth in size, mass, composition, and separation from the sun. In addition to the types of geological formations connected to water erosion, these factors have prompted scientists to theorize that Venus formerly supported vast oceans similar to those on Earth.

According to new research, the planet formerly had oceans of liquid carbon dioxide, adding another bizarre, extreme event to Venus’ list.

Scientists already hypothesized that Venus formerly had abundant water in its atmosphere, enough to cover the planet in an ocean 80 feet deep. But the temperature wouldn’t have dropped low enough for the clouds to drop rain. Instead, according to a study published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, carbon dioxide may have accumulated on the surface.

This image shows the surface of the northern hemisphere of Venus as observed by NASA's Magellan radar-mapping spacecraft, which peered through the planet's thick clouds during a mission that ended in 1994. Scientists now suspect Venus may have once harbored oceans of carbon dioxide in the ancient past. This image depicts the surface of Venus’ northern hemisphere as seen by NASA’s Magellan radar mapping spacecraft during a mission that concluded in 1994. The probe looked through the planet’s dense atmosphere. According to scientists, carbon dioxide oceans may have previously existed on Venus in the distant past.

Venus has a lot of carbon dioxide. According to lead study author Dima Bolmatov, a theoretical physicist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, “At the moment, the atmosphere of Venus is mostly carbon dioxide, 96.5 percent by volume.”


Venus may have had “a bubble of gas that is covered by a thick layer of liquid” in addition to its ocean being entirely carbon dioxide.

Venus hence “looked like soap bubbles.” He continued by saying that millions of years ago, the interaction between hot weather and atmospheric pressure created a “supercritical” state, which could dissolve objects like a liquid but flow like a gas.

“The atmospheric pressure on the surface of Venus is currently more than 90 times that of Earth, but in the planet’s early days, Venus’ surface pressure could have been dozens of times greater. This could have lasted a relatively long period of 100 million to 200 million years. Under such conditions, supercritical carbon dioxide with liquidlike behavior might have formed.”

It is “plausible,” according to Bolmatov, that geological structures on Venus, such as rift valleys, river-like beds, and plains, represent “the fingerprints of near-surface activity of liquid-like supercritical carbon dioxide.” In addition, they discovered that gas-like supercritical CO2 clusters that resembled soap bubbles may have also formed, depending on the pressure and temperature.

The second planet from the sun and our nearest neighbor, Venus, is considerably closer to us than Mars. The brightest natural object that can be seen in the Earth’s night sky is the sun, which orbits the planet in 224.7 Earth days. It is sometimes referred to as Earth’s “sister planet” because of how similar its size, gravity, and composition are to Earth’s.

Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system, with a mean surface temperature of 863 degrees Fahrenheit, surpassing Mercury, which is nearest to the sun and has a maximum temperature of 800 degrees Fahrenheit but a typical temperature of only about 150 degrees.

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