SPACE – Vegetarians, better to abstain. Since early July, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has begun sending back its first images from the far reaches of the universe. The first photo was revealed on July 11 by Joe Biden and shows “the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 as it existed 4.6 billion years ago.”
Enough to travel in time and space from the small planet Earth but also to “feed” and “awaken” everyone’s curiosity about the most recent scientific discoveries. Although sometimes that means letting yourself be fooled by a few bright colors and well-adjusted contrast…
In any case, this is the trap played on many Internet users by the physicist Étienne Klein, research director of the Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). On his Twitter account, the scientist shared an image this Sunday, July 31, presenting a “photo of Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun, located 4.2 light years from us.”
He specifies in his tweet that the image was taken by the James Webb Space Telescope and marvels: “This level of detail… A new world is revealed day after day.”
Photo of Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun, located 4.2 light years from us. They took her… https://t.co/5n8VNVh4xF
— Étienne KLEIN (@EtienneKlein)
A cliché that is actually too “beautiful” to be true, except perhaps for the aperitif… After having captivated a certain number of netizens, Étienne Klein quickly set the record straight: this is by no means an image of Proxima Centauri, but a simple slice of sausage on a black background.
” According to contemporary cosmology, there is no object belonging to the Spanish charcuterie except on Earth. “, type first before adding: “ I feel compelled to clarify that this tweet showing an alleged snapshot of Proxima Centauri was a form of diversion. Let us learn to distrust both the arguments of authority and the spontaneous eloquence of certain images… “.
contacted by The HuffPost, Etienne Klein explains that his tweets had above all an educational objective. ” This is the first time I’ve made a joke when I’m more on this network as a scientific authority figure. The good news is that some immediately understood the hoax but it also took two tweets to clear it up. It also illustrates the fact that on this type of social media, fake news is always more successful than real news. I also think if I hadn’t said it was a picture of James Webb, it wouldn’t have been as successful. “, details.
Several netizens liked the tune, while others didn’t hesitate to make a better one, as you can see below with what is very clearly the image of a pitted olive.
@EtienneKlein @ebothorel What about this incredible eclipse on Proxima Centauri B, the closest known exoplanet… https://t.co/bo69MaDXws
— ＼Ｏ／ (@CharlieBismuth)
A reverse Google search shows that the photo featuring a slice of sausage as a celestial object is not new and was notably revisited in 2018, this time featured as a lunar eclipse, for example.
As for the real star Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf, this is what it looks like, as you can see in the image below taken by the Hubble Telescope and provided by the European Southern Observatory. This is the star shown at the bottom right.
Y. BELETSKY (LCO)/ESO/ESA/NASA/M/AFP
Images provided by ESO showing an image of Proxima Centauri (lower right) and Alpha Centauri, lower left, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.
Beware of too beautiful images.
However, the Etienne Klein joke is still healthy in more ways than one. With the launch of James Webb, many Internet users improvise or pose as space specialists, spreading false information or images on social networks.
For example, a photo showing a “void” in space was widely circulated on Twitter on Monday. The account, presenting itself as a promoter, assured that it would be necessary to travel more than 750 million years in it before coming across something there. Indeed, the image in question presented the molecular cloud Barnard 68, whose gas has the property of absorbing almost all the light emitted by the stars that surround it. Which gives a false impression of emptiness.
JWST is observing this dark region of space 500 light-years away (Barnard 68) now and for the next 2 hours. It’s… https://t.co/Lr6YhGLllS
— Dr. James O’Donoghue (@physicsJ)
Regarding the James Webb Space Telescope, if you want to know everything about the first images, The HuffPost I had dedicated a very comprehensive article to it in July, and it is available below.
See also in The HuffPost: We’ve Never Seen a Black Hole This Big
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