Betelgeuse (think "Beetlejuice") is a red supergiant star that is 1,000 times wider and 100,000 times brighter than our sun. It's only 10 million years old but supergiants run hot and fast and blow themselves to smithereens in a Type IIa supernova after a very brief run. In fact Betelgeuse is due to disappear in a bright flash sometime in the next million years, creating either a neutron star or a black hole.
The headlines are warning the bright red star in the right shoulder of Orion to "brace for impact," but even at its current velocity of 30 kilometers per second it will take 5,000 years for the bow shock - material ejected from the star during its evolution and blown into space by its violent solar wind - to reach the wall of gas, or about 12,500 years for the bloated red supergiant itself to actually interact with the wall, "a faint linear bar of dust...may represent a dusty filament connected to the local Galactic magnetic field or the edge of an interstellar cloud." What happens when it gets to the wall? Maybe nothing, maybe a supernova. We'll have to wait and see...
All these new details were made possible by the European Space Agency Herschel Space Observatory, the largest telescope in orbit, which detects very distant light in the deep infrared.
Image credit: http://herschel.cf.ac.uk/results/betelgeuse