Physicist uses a picture of a chorizo sausage and claims it's from James Webb Space Telescope

A French physicist has been caught in a social media storm after attempting to pass off a picture of a slice of chorizo as a distant star.
Christopher McFadden
jwst-chorizo.jpg
  • The physicist posted a slice of chorizo pretending it was an image of a distant star
  • His followers soon realized something was up
  • He was then forced to apologize for the joke

In space exploration news, a French physicist has been caught up in a social media storm after jokingly posting a picture of a piece of chorizo, pretending it was an image from the James Webb Space Telescope. He tweeted the picture of a slice of chorizo and said it was an image of a far-off star captured by the telescope and has since been forced to apologize.

The photograph of the hot Spanish sausage was posted on Twitter last week by renowned physicist and director of France's Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission Étienne Klein, who praised the "depth of detail" it gave.

"Picture of Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the Sun, located 4.2 light years away from us. It was taken by the James Webb Space Telescope. This level of detail... A new world is unveiled every day," he told his more than 91,000 followers on Sunday.

Thousands of users shared the image on Twitter and commented on it, taking the scientist at his word.

However, things were not as they seemed at first.

In a series of subsequent tweets, Klein later acknowledged that the picture was a close-up of a chorizo sausage slice on a dark background.

"Well, when it's cocktail hour, cognitive bias seem to find plenty to enjoy... Beware of it. According to contemporary cosmology, no object related to Spanish charcuterie exists anywhere else other than on Earth"

He posted this after receiving criticism for the prank from users of the online community: "In view of certain comments, I feel obliged to specify that this tweet showing an alleged picture of Proxima Centauri was a joke. Let's learn to be wary of the arguments from positions of authority as much as the spontaneous eloquence of certain images."

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Physicist uses a picture of a chorizo sausage and claims it's from James Webb Space Telescope
Chorizo.
Piotr Krzeslak/iStock

When asked about the fake on Wednesday, Klein said his goal was to "to urge caution regarding images that seem to speak for themselves."

He apologized by posting a picture of the stunning Cartwheel galaxy and assuring followers that this time the photo was real.

On July 12, the James Webb telescope, the most powerful telescope ever put into orbit, started performing scientific observations. By seeing them using infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye, it will be able to peep inside the atmospheres of exoplanets and observe some of the first galaxies generated after the universe began.

Despite pranks like this distracting from the amazing images the telescope has already yielded, the JWST is only just getting started on its mission.

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