Though the cosmic question mark recently captured by the James Webb Space Telescope may have bewildered the scientific community, the symbol’s meaning is loud and clear to the conspiracy theorists of Reddit, proving we’re all actually living in a simulation.
Did the James Webb Space Telescope let us in on the fact this is all a cosmic joke?— Rocketgirl (@Rocket_Grrrl) August 8, 2023
(Actually, astrophysicists who've seen the image speculate it may be the merger of two distant galaxies.) pic.twitter.com/CWcxPZzlFM
In late June, NASA released several new images from the massive telescope, including one depicting stars in the Vela Constellation. Alongside showing two stars, collectively known as Herbig-Haro 46/47, in their early stages of development, the snap caught something else — a rogue, red question mark lurking nearby.
Though the quizzical formation is “probably a pair of galaxies in the background which are merging together” as Dr. Christopher Britt, a scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute told IGN, a handful of tin-foil-hat sporting Redditors had a different idea on the question mark’s quandary, interpreting it as a simulation theory “Easter egg.”
“It’s a simulation, but the universe isn’t meant to render that far in advance,” wrote u/Clerk18 on one of the several Reddit threads detailing the discovery.
“That's it. We are 100% in a simulation,” added u/HereComesBullet68.
Though they then offered a word of praise to the simulation’s designers — “well done, overlords,” they wrote — fellow Redditor u/FlavorMatters apparently believed these compliments could soon be paid in person.
“This is all a simulation, we are really like really close to breaking thru to the matrix,” they speculated.
But these wild theories may not be entirely baseless. To Redditor u/Zoner1501, the rogue punctuation wasn’t entirely unheard of, serving as an uncanny reminder of gaming with a wonky graphics card.
“I had a computer that did stuff like this on random textures in a game. It turns out I needed a new graphics card,” they wrote before asking “When was the last time they replaced the hardware on this simulation?”
“Things are starting to get screwy,” they joked.
A few days ago, The James Webb shared an image of a star system 1,400 light years away. The system is named Herbig-Haro which has two young stars and a distant object shaped like a question mark…— chel$ea (@chelsssseeeea) August 7, 2023
If this isn’t a bull case that we’re in a simulation I’m not sure what is… or… pic.twitter.com/JqaM8OQi3i
Though this galactic question mark may be just that for now, it appears we’ll someday get an answer to its true meaning. We can only hope that u/ihatetwizzlers is right and that “this area of the galaxy map will be unlocked with new DLC after disclosure happens.”