Étienne Klein, a celebrity physicist and director at France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, shared a photo of last week on Twitter claiming it was a photograph of the star “Proxima Centauri” taken by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
The photo ended up being nothing, but a photo of chorizo sausage.
“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 everyday,” he told his more than 91,000 followers on Sunday.
The post went viral as thousands of people retweeted and commented on the post.
Klein admitted later on Twitter that the image was actually a close-up of a slice of chorizo on a black 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 said.
On Wednesday, Klein apologized for the fake news:
“I come to present my apologies to those who may have been shocked by my prank, which had nothing original about it,” he said, describing the tweet as a “scientist’s joke.”
As usual, under closer scrutiny another photograph of space ended up being nothing, but a hoax.
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