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Night of the Stars or ChorizoGate: How to Beware of Images on Social Media – The HuffPost

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NASA / via REUTERS The “Cosmic Cliffs” of the Carina Nebula are seen in an image divided horizontally by an undulating line between a cloudscape forming a nebula along the bottom portion and a comparatively clear upper portion, with data from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, a revolutionary apparatus designed to peer through the cosmos to the dawn of the universe and released July 12, 2022. Speckled across both portions is a starfield, showing innumerable stars of many sizes. NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY NASA / via REUTERS An image of the “cosmic cliffs” taken by the James Webb telescope and unveiled on July 12, 2022 SPACE – This weekend we will have to look up at the sky, both literally and figuratively. As every year, the month of August offers ideal conditions for the Night of the Stars. An event whose popularity should double in view of the enthusiasm aroused by the James Webb space telescope, but which also echoes another news item of the week: the #Chorizogate, as it is now customary to call it. Last week, renowned physicist Etienne Klein posted a photo of a slice of chorizo ​​on Twitter, implying that it was the star Proxima Centauri. A hoax for educational purposes to invite Internet users to beware. “I’m sure if I hadn’t said it was an image of James Webb, it would have been a lot less successful,” he even told HuffPost. If the scientist explained and even apologized, the joke had the merit of underlining a major phenomenon: the sharing of false astro-images on social networks. “It’s so extraordinary, you feel like you have access to another world and you want to believe it. But for all that, certain details must challenge us, ”warns the astrophysicist and president of the French society of astronomy and astrophysics, Éric Lagadec, contacted by The HuffPost. From one photo to another First of all, we must remember that even when we are talking about celestial objects millions of kilometers away, there is someone on Earth who took or who composed the image in question. “There are a lot of accounts that feature images with just ‘NASA’ in the credit. This is a first element that must make people tick, NASA does not make an image alone, ”explains Éric Lagadec. For example, on one of the recent images shared on its Instagram account, NASA indicates in credit “NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI⁣⁣”. As in any photographic object, we must not forget the post-production and retouching work either. This work is also directly carried out by scientists. The Hubble telescope did not take color shots. Then task the scientists and their computers to combine different takes of the same object, to pass the data and information through the mill, to ultimately give the impressive colors that we know. This colorimetric work carried out by scientists makes it possible to give meaning to what would otherwise be invisible to the human eye. Finally, beware of the captions that often accompany images presented as unpublished on social networks. If there are many superlatives and few explanations, or even extremely precise figures, again, caution. An image that was relayed a lot on social networks last weekend presented itself as that of a “space vacuum” that one would have to cross for 732,536,988 years before being able to come across something. Twitter is full of “wonder science” accounts, many of them full of stolen images & misinformation. The recent viral… https://t.co/bjaM4ttGID — Corey S. Powell (@coreyspowell) See tweet “Obviously that’s wrong, that number of years doesn’t make any sense. We cannot have such precision, ”warns Éric Lagadec. In this case, the “space vacuum” in question was the molecular cloud of Barnard 68. An infrared filter shows that it is not at all empty. Good accounts make good friends In general, it must be remembered that an extraordinary discovery, an unprecedented scientific advance will never be made in a simple tweet, but will generate a press conference, scientific articles… ” With James Webb somewhere, science is done live. We are only beginning to write scientific articles which will then have to go through a peer review and a verification process,” recalls Éric Lagadec. In this sense, to sharpen your critical eye, it is better to follow Twitter and Instagram accounts that have been certified or recognized for several years for their popularization work. NASA, the European Space Agency, the European Southern Observatory, CNES, or even the Instagram account dedicated to the James Webb Telescope. Many recognized astrophotographers, professional or amateur, also regularly share content on social networks. This @esa_webb image is the most precise and distant ever obtained. It represents a portion of the sky… https://t.co/uFw7TOKCME – CNES (@CNES) See the tweet A little closer to the stars Above all, if the launch of the James Webb space telescope still promises beautiful photos, it does not can not everything. “James Webb is mainly intended for observing faint things, in near and mid-infrared, not for ultra-bright things like a star,” says Éric Lagadec. It is, for example, its infrared capability that enabled the JWST to obtain such a precise image of these “cosmic cliffs”. By seeing in particular through gas and dust, it makes it possible to see barely formed stars. And there we arrive on the fabulous cosmic cliffs. See from top to bottom the difference between the images obtained… https://t.co/KjcNhIUgEm — Eric Lagadec (@EricLagadec) View tweet Above all, the stars, even if they are hundreds or even thousands of times larger than our Sun, are located at distances far too great to offer precision. The closest star that offers the clearest vision of its surface is quite simply the Sun, recalls Éric Lagadec on Twitter. The sun is therefore a star (yes yes) close enough for us to see its surface. Here is for example a… https://t.co/ElNF7BcmNV – Eric Lagadec (@EricLagadec) See the tweet The scientist indicates as an example that to obtain the photo below presenting the star Beltegeuse, at 700 years- light from us and with a radius a thousand times greater than the sun, it was necessary to use the largest telescope in the world, 40 meters long, located in Chile. But hey, looking at a one euro coin at 200 km isn’t much use. You can also look at stars. C… https://t.co/xeaoWiFByt — Eric Lagadec (@EricLagadec) See the tweet Sometimes astronomers combine the power of two telescopes, allowing to obtain as you can see below a blurred image of the surface of ‘Antares. By pointing it towards very large stars, red giants (end-of-life suns), we were able to obtain im… https://t.co/UxfcWiS4I4 — Eric Lagadec (@EricLagadec) See the tweet Returning to the photo of chorizo ​​shared by Étienne Klein, the scientist also recalls that this star in question is 50 times smaller than its cousins ​​presented above and above all that it is a red dwarf, whose images of star surfaces are very difficult to achieve. “The stars that you can almost get good images for are red giants that are dying, they are very old stars. So be careful if you are presented with an image of the surface of a red dwarf, which is a star in the process of being born,” he adds. No offense to charcuterie lovers. See also on The HuffPost: We have never seen such a black hole You cannot view this content because you have refused the cookies associated with third-party content. If you want to view this content, you can change your choices.

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