Distant Star or Smoked Sausage? Astronomer Apologizes After Joke Tweet Goes Viral

Distant Star or Smoked Sausage? Astronomer Apologizes After Joke Tweet Goes Viral
Proxima Centauri is the nearest star to our Sun, located just over four light-years away from Earth. (Image: NASA)

If you’re not an expert on the cosmos, it’s very easy to confuse a view of a burning star with that of a sliced up piece of sausage. Well, only if it’s a particularly majestic-looking Chorizo tweeted by a famed astronomer.

French physicist Étienne Klein recently trolled his followers on Twitter by posting a picture of a Chorizo slice, and claiming that it was the star Proxima Centauri as captured by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). “This level of detail… A new world is revealed day after day,” Klein wrote on Twitter.

The tweet was liked and retweeted by more than 20,000 thousand people before Klein revealed that the image was, in fact, a piece of Spanish smoked sausage, not the closest star to the Sun. Klein later apologised to those who fell for the joke, adding that he “simply wanted to urge caution with images that seem eloquent on their own.”

Klein’s edible stint comes weeks after the first images captured by JWST were widely shared online, with people marveling at the beauty of the cosmos captured in detail by the world’s biggest space telescope. At the same time, things of cosmic nature are very easily misinterpreted, and it’s easy to exaggerate events taking place outside of our planet. Just follow click-bait headlines that warn of incoming asteroids, menacing black holes, and violent solar eruptions.

It’s a hilarious joke, and blowhards should leave Klein alone. His intention with the little hoax was to advise people to proceed with caution when absorbing information about celestial objects. And that perhaps sometimes what you may see as a burning ball of gas located about four light years away from Earth is nothing more than some sliced pork sausage.