A little over a year ago, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory witnessed an eruption from the sun that emitted bursts of hot plasma into space. During this phenomenon, some of the plasma was sucked back up by the gravitational pull of the Sun, helping scientists observe how young stars accrete the matter around them.
The event took place on June 2, 2011, and since NASA’s Observatory spacecraft monitors the Sun constantly, it caught sight of hot plasma being hurtled into space. Yet, flashing bright flashes and ultraviolet radiation indicated that some of the plasma was being swallowed back up by the Sun. Designed and developed by scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), the spacecraft’s Atmospheric Imaging Assembly instrument was able to provide images of the event—better than any high-definition picture.