This artist's impression made available Aug. 24, shows the remarkable planetary system around the Sun-like star HD 10180. Observations with the HARPS spectrograph, attached to ESO's 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla, Chile, have revealed the definite presence of five planets and evidence for two more in orbit around this star. This system is similar to the Solar System in terms of number of planets and the presence of a regular pattern in the sizes of the orbits. If confirmed the closest planet detected would be the lightest yet known outside the Solar System, with a mass that could be only about 1.4 times that of the Earth. L. Calcada/ESO/AP
This image shows Hurricane Earl taken by astronaut Douglas Wheelock aboard the International Space Station and posted Aug. 31. Earl was expected to remain over the open ocean before turning north and running parallel to the East Coast, bringing high winds and heavy rain to North Carolina's Outer Banks by late Thursday or early Friday. NASA/AP
In this image from The Mars Climate Sounder instrument on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, released by NASA August 27, the mapping of the vertical distribution of temperatures, dust, water vapor and ice clouds in the Martian atmosphere is shown as the orbiter flies a near-polar orbit. The data depicted in this image is from March 1, 2008, which was during early spring on northern Mars. JPL-Caltech/NASA/Reuters
The photo was taken by a homemade balloon launched from Raleigh, North Carolina, Aug. 22, by Team TechShop. The balloon soared to 80,000 feet and took dozens of photos of the Earth's horizon and the blackness of space before it landed in a tree in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Team TechShop NC/AP
This image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in July 2001, reveals unprecedented details of Hoag's Object. It spans about 100,000 light years and lies about 600 million light years away toward the constellation of the Snake (Serpens). On the outside is a ring dominated by bright blue stars, while near the center lies a ball of much redder stars that are likely much older. Between the two is a gap that appears almost completely dark. R. Lucas/NASA (STScI/AURA)
The Four Mountains in Alaska's Aleutian Island chain, shown in this August 2010 image, contain restless Mt. Cleveland, an active volcano currently being watched to see if it emits an ash cloud that could affect air travel over parts of North America. NASA
Cloudless skies allowed a clear view of dust and hydrogen sulfide plumes along the coast of Namibia on Aug. 10. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite captured this natural-color image. NASA
This image is of a four-quadrant solar sail system, measuring 66 feet on each side that was tested in 2005 in the world's largest vacuum chamber at NASA's Glenn Research Center at Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio. NASA
Photo taken on May 16, shows a crescent moon below planet Venus in sky observed in Nanning, capital of southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The astronomical phenomenon could be observed in some parts of China as the Moon appeared in alignment between the Earth and Venus. Newscom
Emerging from the craft into the daylight on the Expedition 24, Doug Wheelock and fellow astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson (not pictured) completed the second of three spacewalks to remove a failed ammonia coolant pump module on the International Space Station's S1 truss on Aug. 11. NASA
Kim Jong-un's powerful uncle was accused of plotting a coup before he was put to death, raising the possibility of a further purge deep into the ranks of the military and the party.
Donald Kirk, Correspondent /
December 13, 2013
The execution of the man once perceived as the most influential figure in North Korea portends what analysts see as a growing purge of critics of the shaky rule of Kim Jong-un in a time of extreme uncertainty about the future of his regime.