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Is Coruscant's defense strong enough to keep up against an attack from the Death Star?

If Tarkin lost control or turned against the Emperor, I guess even Vader couldn't stop the leader of the battle station from doing what he wants. Ie. Qui-Gon told "I can't fight a war for you" and there must be some legions on the Death Star.

Could the Death Star impose a threat to the capital of the Empire?

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read Star Wars X-Wing: Wedges Gamble, it goes into a bit of detail of the defenses around Corusant. The stormtroopers on the first death star are the 501st, 'Vaders Fist', Vader was there to oversee and protect against Tarkin doing something stupid like that, while Tarkin did have operational control. –  Mike Ramirez Jul 7 '12 at 9:17

4 Answers 4

up vote 25 down vote accepted

Yes. In Wedge's Gamble, there's a passage that talks about the main computer centre and says something along the lines of

Rumour had it that if the Death Star had been used against Coruscant, the computer centre would have been a recognisable and salvageable piece of debris.
Wedge's Gamble, p243

which suggests that the Death Stars' superlaser would overwhelm even the double shielding in place over Coruscant.

As to the point about Tarkin and Vader, as I said in this answer Vader was on the Death Star precisely to prevent Tarkin from getting the idea of taking out the Emperor. The Emperor also organised the leadership aboard the Death Star (between Tarkin, Tagge and Motti) so that all three would be jockeying for power between them instead of working together to do something ... foolish.

I guess even Vader couldn't stop the leader of the battle station do what he wants

Well, if Tarkin had gone off the rails and despatched the Death Star's entire stormtrooper garrison to take out, frankly my money'd be on the dude in the black.

BTW my reading of Qui-Gon's 'I can't fight a war for you' statement is less a reflection of his capabilities and more to do with the neutrality of the Jedi.

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This isn't canon tho' –  Gaius Mar 5 at 12:25
    
@Gaius: The existence of planetary shields around Coruscant isn't canon then, as they aren't mentioned in the movies at all (and Revenge of the Sith's opening scenes could be taken as an argument against a plentary shield). Most of the EU details of Coruscant's defenses are taken from the X-Wing series (they were written before the later books that reference Coruscant's defenses, and served as the basis for the later books), so if you discount this explanation, you're discounting the question itself. –  Jeff Mar 5 at 14:26
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@Gaius It was canon at the time it was written... –  PhilPursglove Mar 5 at 14:40

Probably yes.

All examples of battles we see in Star Wars, even between capital ships, happen mostly within visual range. This means, if the Death Star fired its "superlaser" or what, from a couple of light-minutes or light-hours away, Coruscant would not even have had a chance to know what hit them, much less to defend itself.

I know, the Deaths Star could not fire from across the Galaxy because the light diffracts across very long distances (and it would take thousands of years to arrive), but from a few AUs away it would still have considerable power to destroy the planet or at least make it uninhabitable.

Why they did not use this strategy when they attacked the rebel base in Episode IV, I don't know. Maybe they were overconfident in the Death Star's invulnerability.

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Do we really know that the Death Star's main weapon has that kind of range? A real-world laser probably would, but the way the beam is formed from several smaller beams implies that it works in a way that's not entirely consistent with known physics. –  Keith Thompson Jul 7 '12 at 19:00
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Blowing up a planet requires an insane amount of energy. The Earth, for example, would require at least 2.2405 * 10^32 kg m^2 s^-2 energy to be blown up, equivalent to the complete annihilation of 1,246,400,000,000 tonnes of antimatter. (source: qntm.org/data) If the Death Star can deliver this amount of energy to the distance of a lunar orbit, even if in a distance of a solar orbit it had only a billion times less energy, it would still be enough to make a planet completely uninhabitable. A nuclear bomb has the energy of a few hundred milligrams of antimatter. –  vsz Jul 7 '12 at 19:37
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You may well be correct -- but you're making assumptions about how the effectiveness of the Death Star's main weapon falls off with distance. For all we know, it might fizzle out to nearly nothing at a million kilometers -- unlikely, but consistent with what we've seen. There's precedent elsewhere; in the Star Trek episode "Balance of Terror", the Enterprise was able to survive the impact of the Romulan weapon by running away to a large enough distance (but then that wasn't a narrow beam). –  Keith Thompson Jul 7 '12 at 20:19
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Is an episode of Star Trek really a 'precedent'? ;) Also, the beam (consisting of whatever) may have a high energy, but does it mean that it's very stable? Perhaps the gravity field has something to do with it if there is more to the DS's size than size. –  naxa Jul 8 '12 at 18:12

If Luke can destroy Death Star, there's no reason why Vader couldn't take out Death Star. Reasons:

  • Vader knew everything about Death Star including its weak spots. So, he could make better plans than Rebels.

  • Vader knew how to use force which could give him advantage. If a force-virgin like Luke could take advantage of force, why couldn't Vader.

  • Vader had more experience of battle than Luke. He was a great pilot too.. since childhood.

Worth mentioning that Emperor Palpatine would also be there against Death Star. Also, Imperial fleets aren't a small hurdle. Warp into Death Star with Star Destroyer (just saying).. and Boom!

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A Star Destroyer is 1.6 km long. The Death Star 120 km. An asteroid a 75th the width of Earth hitting our Moon at 40000 km per hour only craters it, but at over 1 million times the speed of light*, the Death Star would need some awesome shields. –  Cees Timmerman Sep 11 '12 at 12:36
    
Why would Vader know the weak points? He's not an engineer. He hasn't spent hours poring over them, looking for vulnerabilities. He, like all political leaders, has people for that. His people have told him there are no weak spots (because they discount the threat posed by snubfighters). None of the Imperials knew about the weak point until the Rebel attack pattern was analyzed. –  Jeff Mar 5 at 14:31
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@CeesTimmerman: There's no evidence supporting the idea that you can ram a ship in normal space from hyperspeed. Even if you get the exit coordinates perfect (hard to do with a moving target) - we see some really incredible deceleration when ships exit hyperspace - I can't think of a time in the movies when they've exited hyperspace with any significant velocity, they usually exit virtually at rest. –  Jeff Mar 5 at 14:34
    
@Jeff True, but how fast would the landing matter make way? –  Cees Timmerman Mar 5 at 16:29

I'd say the weapon itself could destroy Coruscant, if it got in range and was able to fire. Even if Coruscant had some sort of shield or were somehow more resiliant, I doubt the amount of resiliance would matter much, since being able to turn Alderaan into an asteroid field in one shot, implies it could do at least life-extinguishing damage to a much much more resistant target. So it's definitely a possible danger, and one that therefore would have been considered and made unlikely in many ways.

For example, they wouldn't have put Tarkin in charge if they had any notion that Tarkin would ever do that. Even if he did, I think it's most likely he'd be overthown first by some level of command and/or mutiny, even if he had a cadre of like-minded supporters. Assuming a certain level of intelligence, the Death Star garrison itself may have been given a split command structure with highly trusted leaders, so even if there were some mutineers, they would be outnumbered by loyalists. Order 66 shows precedent for this sort of contingency planning. Surely there would be an Order 1099 or something, or a standing order to take out anyone ordering the Death Star to go to Coruscant, or anywhere else fishy and not Emperor-approved. In Episode IV too, we see a meeting of a council of Imperial leaders on the Death Star. Vader chokes one of them, but if it were just Tarkin and he were ordering moves towards Coruscant, I'd expect the others to move to take Tarkin out.

Even if the Death Star command structure was all for going to Coruscant, getting close enough soon enough may have been an issue, as I'd assume the Emperor and the Imperial fleet would have considered the possibility and planned against it. It probably was prohibited from navigating near Coruscant, both by regulation and possibly by its own computers. The computers could have failsafes where trying to hack them or order prohibited moves would disable to navigation and turbolaser and send a warning to the fleet. Since Obi Wan, who had never heard of the Death Star before, was able to deactivate the Death Star's tractor beams, presumably there were ways that either computer failsafes or loyal crew could intervene to prevent the ship from destroying Coruscant. The fleet may also have been able to detect and counter its moves. A large Imperial fleet attack may have been able to focus fire on the turbolaser and take it out of action.

As for Vader, I wouldn't discount his ability to stop a renegade Tarkin. His novice son managed to take out the Death Star. He might have been able to take out the Death Star by similar or other action, but it wouldn't be certain... On the other hand, I don't know what it takes to target a "Force Choke", but given he could kill Admiral Ozzel by choking him from a distance, he may have been able to do the same to Tarkin just by getting nearby. The answers to this question suggest that he may not have needed to get close at all to choke Tarkin.

The Emperor too would have had some abilities to counter Tarkin, by forseeing his betrayal, and no doubt by other means. Certainly he would have thought of the possibility, and arranged for some countermeasures, at least as described above, if not moreso.

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There's an awful lot of guesswork and supposition here. The whole answer borders on fan-fiction. –  Richard May 25 at 18:10
    
@Richard Seems to me like everything is based on things we see in the films (explosion of Alderaan, Luke destroying Death Star, Tarkin's character, Order 66, leadership group meeting on Death Star, force choke of Needa at long range, Emperor forseeing things), or on only unobjectionable logic. I bothered to write this up because it seemed more logical and more based on what we know from the films, than the other answers, to me. –  Dronz May 25 at 18:34
    
@Dronz Poor Captain Needa never made it to Admiral and fell to Vader's feet after choking to death. That guy falling out of frame with severe respiratory trouble while on the bridge (with Vader in his meditation chamber) was called Ozzel. –  BMWurm May 25 at 20:46
    
@BWMurm Oh, thanks! I'll correct that. –  Dronz May 25 at 21:39

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