Supergiant Star Betelgeuse to Crash Into Interstellar ‘Wall’
The red supergiant star Betelgeuse in the famed constellation Orion is on a collision course with a strange wall of interstellar dust, with the clock ticking down to a cataclysmic cosmic smashup in 5,000 years, scientists say. A new image of Betelgeuse suggests the star will crash headlong into a trail of space dust while speeding through its part of the cosmos at a blistering 18.6 miles per second (about 66,960 mph).
The new image, by the European Space Agency’s infrared Herschel space observatory, shows Betelgeuse as a bright disk surrounded by a shield-like arc of gas as it approaches an odd bar-like wall of dust. The curved “shield” formations to the left of the star are actually structures shaped by Betelgeuse’s solar wind — the charged particles each star emits and blows out into the galaxy, ESA officials said. But the wall of dust the star will crash into may be anything, from a filament linked to the galaxy’s magnetic field to a stellar cloud. Scientists do not think the dust wall is part of the Betelgeuse star structure.