This is a real image of a T4 Bacteriophage (a virus) as seen through an electron microscope.
An image of a bacteriophage is shared with the claim that it is a real image of a T4 bacteriophage seen through an electron microscope. This image is shared with the same claim for the last few years on Twitter and Facebook. Some of the claims can be seen here, here, here, and here.
What is the truth?
When searching the viral image with Google lens, multiple results were displayed. When going through the results, most of the links used the image for representation purposes, and through one link it is found that the image is not real but a computer-generated image.
The ‘RS Science’ website in one of its articles on Science Facts Behind Astonishing Electron Microscope Images, mentioned that the viral image is most likely computer-simulated. It is further explained that electron microscopes do not have a depth of field on this scale, and the model has perspective distortion which implies the “lens” would be in an unusual position for a typical electron microscope. The real image of bacteriophage is also displayed in the article.
With further search, the Imgur website is found mentioning that the viral image is from XVIVO, a company specialized in science visualizations.
When searching with the keywords including XVIVO, the viral image is found on the XVIVO website under ‘Medical animation and illustration wallpaper gallery’. The original image can be seen with the company’s name ‘XVIVO Scientific Animation’.
It is found that the computer generated image of bacteriophage by XVIVO Scientific Animation is falsely shared as real image of T4 bacteriophage through electron microscope.