A prominent scientist has posted an image of a distant star that he says was taken by the Webb telescope. It was actually a slice of chorizo.

A red ball of spicy fire with luminous spots that glow menacingly against a black background.

This, said eminent French scientist Etienne Klein, was the last amazing photo taken by the James Webb Space Telescope of Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our Sun.

Fellow Twitter users marveled at the details of the photo allegedly taken by the telescope, which delighted the world with images of distant galaxies dating back to the birth of the universe.

“This level of detail… A new world is revealed every day,” he said.

But in fact, as Klein later revealed, the image was not of the intriguing star just over four light-years from the Sun, but a much more modest slice of chorizo ​​a la spanish sausage.

“According to contemporary cosmology, no object belonging to Spanish cured meats exists anywhere but on Earth,” he said.

Klein — who has more than 91,000 Twitter followers — admitted that many netizens didn’t get his joke, which he said was simply meant to make us “be wary of arguments from people in positions of authority as well as of the spontaneous eloquence of certain images”. .”

However, at a time when the fight against fake news is of paramount importance to the scientific community, many Twitter users indicated that they were not amused by Klein, director of research at the Office of the Energy Commissioner. atomic and producer of radio programs.

Wednesday, he said sorry to those who were misled.

“I come to apologize to those who may have been offended by my prank, which was not original,” he said, calling the message a “scientist joke”.

He was soon back on safer ground by posting an image of the famous Cartwheel Galaxy taken by the James Webb Space Telescope. This time, he assured users, the photo was real.

Last month, NASA unveiled other spectacular first light pictures from the telescope, showing interacting galaxies, the agony of a doomed star, and a stellar nursery where massive young suns are being born, blazing with fierce solar winds that carve vast clouds of gas and dust.

Unlike the Hubble Space Telescope, which primarily observes light in the visible part of the spectrum, Webb is optimized to study longer wavelength infrared radiation, allowing it to capture light from the dawn of the universe. which has been stretched by the expansion of space itself over the past 13.8 billion years.

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