Etienne Klein, who is the research director of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, posted a photo last week that he claimed was of Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the sun, taken by the James Webb Space Telescope.
Klein pointed to the level of detail in the image he posted and said that a “new world” is being revealed.
But he commented on his post about an hour later to reveal the joke, saying that modern cosmology states that no object from “Spanish charcuterie” exists outside of Earth.
After receiving some comments critical of the joke, Klein commented that it was meant for amusement.
“Let us learn to be wary of arguments from authority as much as of the spontaneous eloquence of certain images,” he said.
On Wednesday, Klein posted a real image of a few galaxies located 500 million light years away that the telescope took. He also apologized for the joke, saying he wanted to urge caution about images that appear to speak for themselves.