French Scientist's Photo of ‘Distant Star’ Was Actually Chorizo

Étienne Klein’s tweet was liked and retweeted thousands of times before he revealed he was trolling and the photo showed a slice of sausage, not Proxima Centauri.
chorizo james webb space telescope
Photo: Étienne Klein

A photo tweeted by a famous French physicist supposedly of Proxima Centauri by the James Webb Space Telescope was actually a slice of chorizo.

Étienne Klein, research director at France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission posted the photo last week, claiming it showed the closest star to the sun. 

“This level of detail,” Klein wrote. “A new world is revealed day after day.”

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Images from the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope, a collaboration between NASA and Canada and Europe’s space agencies, went viral throughout July as its first images were released to the public.

But a few days later, Klein revealed that the photo he tweeted was not the work of the world’s most powerful space telescope, as he had in fact tweeted a slice of chorizo sausage.

“According to contemporary cosmology, no object belonging to Spanish charcuterie exists anywhere but on Earth,” he said after apologising for tricking so many people.

“Like an idiot, I got screwed,” tweeted one French user. “Same,” replied another, “the source was so credible…”

Klein told French news outlet Le Point that his intention had been to educate people about fake news online, adding that “I also think that if I hadn't said it was a James Webb photo, it wouldn't have been so successful.”

Earlier this week Klein tweeted another image from the James Webb Space Telescope that definitely shows the Chariot Wheel galaxy and is 100 percent not a slice of salami.