September 26, 2022

Did you see an amazing image of Proxima Centauri taken by the James Webb Space Telescope online this week? Sorry, you’ve been duped. The photo does not depict the nearest star to our Sun. it’s just a piece of chorizo.

This past weekend, French physicist Étienne Klein was posted(Opens in a new window) an image on Twitter and claimed that the space telescope had captured the image of Proxima Centauri, located 4.2 light-years away.

The image appears to show the red surface of the nearby star in a close-up view that no other telescope has ever achieved. “This level of detail… A new world is being revealed day by day,” Klein tweeted. However, the French scientist later followed up the tweet with two other posts(Opens in a new window) to say that the image was a hoax meant to warn people about “cognitive biases”.

“According to modern cosmology, no object belonging to the Spanish deli exists anywhere except on Earth,” he added.

Klein wasn’t the only one to post the hoax image. Before Klein’s tweet, astrophysicist Peter Coles made a similar joke with the same image: “These #JWST images just keep getting better…” he wrote in his own tweet.

However, not everyone realized they were staring at a slice of sausage instead of a star. Klein’s supposed image of Proxima Centauri was flipped 1,700 times and attracted over 12,500 likes.

To stop the misinformation, Klein on Wednesday posted another tweet, clearly stating that the image is fake (though the original tweet remains). “I come to apologize to those whom my prank, which had nothing original in it, may have shocked,” Klein said. He wrote(Opens in a new window). His aim was to urge the public to be cautious about fake news.

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“I also think that if I hadn’t said it was a James-Webb picture, it wouldn’t have been as successful,” he said(Opens in a new window) the French version Le Point.

It doesn’t help matters how the astronomers were division(Opens in a new window) real photos taken by the James Webb Space Telescope on Twitter, which can make it hard to decipher what’s official and what’s not. Therefore, it is always a good idea to look for the original source of the images. You can also follow the official James Space Webb Telescope account(Opens in a new window) on Twitter for the latest photos taken.

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