Betelgeuse, the supergiant bright red star in the picture above, lies in the shoulder of Orion and has dozens of times the mass of the Sun. Scientists believe Betelgeuse is ready to detonate as a supernova at any time. The European Space Agency yesterday released the photograph above showing Betelgeuse ploughing through interstellar space at a speed of 18 miles per second. In the photo, you can see the powerful solar winds creating a bow shock around the star and the “asymmetric structures” closer to the star where it has shed material “like convective bubbles randomly popping to the top of a pot of boiling water”. ESA explains the strange “dusty wall” located to the left of the red supergiant.
“Over on the left-hand side of the photograph is a mysterious dusty wall structure that Betelgeuse is heading straight for. Because this dusty wall doesn’t curve, like the bow shock around Betelgeuse, astronomers don’t think it was caused by the star itself. According to the researchers, the linear bar might be the edge of an interstellar cloud illuminated by Betelgeuse or a linear lament whose possible origin is linked to the Galactic magnetic field. Betelgeuse is responsible for illuminating this structure, like a flashlight illuminating a nearby fog bank. And according to astronomer’s calculations, the star’s bow shock will collide with that wall in a mere 5,000 years, with the star itself following suit 12,500 years later.”