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In the TNG Episode The Emissary, we learn that a Class 8 probe can travel at warp 9 (which puts quite a strain on a Galaxy-class starship, let a lone a probe!). The probe in question was stripped of most of its features to fit a passenger (I shan't name the person to avoid spoiling the episode) inside, who occupied the vast majority of the probe with very little room to spare. Hence, how does the probe manage to sustain such extreme velocities and where does it source its power from?

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I had thought it was launched at warp 9, not that it accelerated itself to that speed... –  Doug T. Apr 6 at 2:00
    
@DougT. - that is certainly a possibility, although the question then presents itself as to how the probe maintains that speed –  N.Soong Apr 6 at 2:01
    
I thought the same as Doug T.. I would assume that something launched at warp speed would maintain that speed until stopped by an outside force, likely gravity, due to inertia. This is the case in the Star Wars universe, though I know of nothing that proves this is also the case in Star Trek. –  James Sheridan Apr 6 at 2:25
    
@JamesSheridan - in the episode though, the probe is traveling at warp 9 and then slows as it approaches The Enterprise, suggesting some sort of propulsion system. Also, when the Enterprise's saucer section separates, it continues to travel at the warp speed without a warp core, but does indeed slow down. –  N.Soong Apr 6 at 2:28
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That's what she said. I tend to agree with you that it doesn't make much sense myself, but that's the best I can come up with at the moment. –  James Sheridan Apr 6 at 2:32

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Class 8 probes are based on photon torpedoes, which use a warp sustainer engine:

Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual

  • The propulsion system of the torpedoes is a warp sustainer engine. The engine coils of the torpedo grab and hold a hand-off field from the launcher tube's sequential field induction coils. A miniature matter/antimatter fuel cell adds power to the hand-off field. When launched in warp flight, torpedo will continue to travel at warp, when launched at sublight, torpedo will travel at a high sublight speed, but will not cross the warp threshold. (pg. 129)
  • Class VIII medium-range and class IX long-range multi-mission warp probes both use a modified photon torpedo casing and a warp sustainer engine as the power plant. (pg. 117,118)
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