what is hyperspace and how does it work?

Hyperspace is one of Star Wars’ most iconic concepts, allowing starships to travel across the galaxy in an instant. But in reality, how exactly does it work?

Hyperspace © Lucasfilm

The speed of light is considered a limit for any matter, energy or signal that carries information through space. However, Star Wars was introduced the idea of ​​hyperspace : a form of travel that allows starships to travel across the galaxy in an instant. While the idea is easy to understand, the way it works is actually a bit more complicated.

Hyperspace, what is it?

As indicated by Star Wars Wiki, hyperspace is an “alternate dimension” which can only be reached by traveling at the speed of light at a minimum. This dimension allows ships to take hyperspace routes over long distances. It is therefore not a speed strictly speaking, but rather another dimension of space-time.

Thus hyperspace is considered i lore from Star Wars as a dimension superimposed on the real universe. This means that when a ship travels from one end of the universe to the other, it not only goes faster than light: it changes dimensions, hyper driven of the engine, helping to maintain the ship’s mass and structure.

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Obi-Wan Kenobi in front of a T-14 Hyperdrive generator.
Obi-Wan Kenobi in front of a T-14 Hyperdrive generator © Lucasfilm

On this topic, if the hyperdrive is absolutely mandatory in order to jump into hyperspace, only the Empire knows how to remotely disable this precious object. The Empire has “interdictor ships” which, when they disable a ship’s hyperdrive, prevent it from jumping or instantly push it out of hyperspace, confronting the passengers with almost certain death.

A natural origin, but still little known

In Star Wars, hyperspace travel first occurred in nature. star wars rebels tells us that giant space whales, known as Purrgilscould fly across the galaxy and even had the ability to travel through hyperspace.

A race first mentioned in the novel Tarkin, by James Luceno. And although the origin of artificial hyperspace is not yet known in lore of the saga, we know that it has existed since at least the beginning of the Republic.

Purrgils
Purrgil’s Fleet © Lucasfilm

An extremely signposted means of transport

One of the problems with this dimensional travel is that physical properties celestial bodies, even if they are located in another dimension, is always present (that lore calling them “mass shadows”). That’s why there is well marked roads which passengers take to avoid any collision.

This is what makes traveling to unknown regions of the galaxy so dangerous: pilots must “guess” their hyperspace jumps and hope they don’t collide with an unknown object.

IN Star Wars Episode IV: A New HopeHan Solo also explains that leaving hyperspace at any time could send the ship into a star, into a planet’s gravity well, or even into a space anomaly.

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Hyperspace, a dimension still underutilized in the Star Wars universe

One of the franchise’s most iconic images is when a ship enters hyperspace. This effect is called pseudo movement (“pseudo-movement”) i novel Thrownreleased in 2017: when entering (or jumping) into hyperspace, the ships emit a unique form of energy called radiation from Cronau. In particular, it can be detected by the scanners of the Imperial Navy’s Imperial-class Star Destroyers.

However, there are still many unknowns about this mysterious dimension. Much like the Force, hyperspace is something Star Wars characters are used to seeing or using, but don’t fully understand.

Sources: Tarkin (novel), Star Wars: The Character Encyclopedia, Star Wars: Solo: The Visual Guide

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