34

On Takodana,

the main characters and various bar patrons can see the planet Hosnian Prime being destroyed by Starkiller Base with their (respective) naked eyes. How did they see this? Is the Hosnian system close enough to see? If it's not very close and they could just see the explosion, how did the light from it reach them so quickly?

  • Possible duplicate of Is Takodana in the Hosnian system? – zipquincy Dec 30 '15 at 19:40
  • @zipquincy This one was posted first, so I'm not sure how this one could be a duplicate of yours. – Milo P Dec 30 '15 at 19:41
  • good point! I will vote to close mine then. – zipquincy Dec 30 '15 at 19:42
  • @zipquincy thanks! I'll clarify the title, hopefully the statue of limitations on spoilers has passed. – Milo P Dec 30 '15 at 19:52
26

This is explained in the film's Junior Novelisation. The super-weapon is capable of firing a beam that travels faster than light. Evidently it also creates an effect that can be seen faster than light, explaining why people in other systems can see it in realtime:

Outside the castle with Chewbacca, Han surveyed a section of Takodana’s sky through a compact ponipin telescope. He’d heard many theories about the origin of the star that had recently blinked into existence. None made any sense. New stellar bodies didn’t just brighten the sky all of a sudden.

Han’s ponipin measured that the new star was also many, many light-years away, which under normal astronomical circumstances meant that it had actually blazed to life years before. Moreover, if the calculations proved correct, the stellar coordinates happened to be the same as those of the Hosnian system, where the capital of the New Republic was located.

Could the Hosnian system have gone nova? Could it—dare he even consider—have been destroyed? And if so, how had it happened so quickly?


This was confirmed in a tweet by the film's Creative Executive, Pablo Hidalgo

Apparently the explosions were...

... Some weird-ass hyperspace-rip seen-across-the-cosmos kinda shit.

  • 3
    Who knew they'd hide the only canon acknowledgement of the physics weirdness in the junior novelization... – Milo P Dec 30 '15 at 19:58
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    @MiloPrice - As DVK's answer shows, there's a (kinda) mention in the Official Novelisation as well. Also, it might have been Midi-chlorians. Who the hell knows. – Valorum Dec 30 '15 at 20:02
  • The most frustrating thing is that the beam being visible from Takodana was completely unnecessary for the plot. Fine, the weapon can travel through hyperspace, but everyone on Takodana could have easily found out immediately through a holomessage or another plot device that didn't break the laws of physics. – gotorg Feb 24 '17 at 20:06
  • We still don't know if it was just a coincidence that the image visible from Takodana was magnified and visible in real time, or if every planet's sky had the enlarged Hosnian having all it's planets turned into miniature suns. – Dom Vasta Nov 15 '17 at 21:43
26

To answer your first question: it is NOT very close at all.

TFA Visual dictionary includes a map of the Galaxy, and Takodana looks to be about 1/4 of a galaxy diameter away from Hosnian Prime (sorry, no image yet to prove that).

In-universe answer: technical mumbo-jumbo. MAYBE.

The novelization by Alan Dean Foster provides a possible explanation, from a certain point of view (the quoted paragraph was describing the operation of Starkiller weapon):

Traveling faster than anything ever generated by artificial means, through a torn portion of space-time whose properties were not fully understood, the concentrated glowing ball of energy lit the night sky above Republic City. Leia’s envoy Korr Sella was among those who gazed uncomprehendingly at the inexplicable phenomenon. Disturbed space was energized and lit up by its passage. It was as if a minuscule sun had suddenly appeared from nowhere, heading directly for the world on which she stood.

So, there's a possible somewhat "lasers make sounds in a vacuum" explanation, that somehow, that "not fully understood" space-time tear managed to allow people on Takodana to see the explosion of Hosnia Prime. Despite being (according to Visual Dictionary map) not only something like a quarter of a Galaxy away, but also not even on a direct path from Starkiller to Hosnian (sorry - I don't have a digital map yet, so you'll have to trust me at my word for now).

That, or Midichlorians made them see it.

Out of universe answer:

J.J. Abrams is hiding under a table ever since I asked him that question. I overheard him mumbling something about lens flares.

There's a chance that they'll retcon that in one of 17,214 new Disney revenue sources canon books/comics/stories they planned. Always in motion, the future is.

  • 4
    I think Yoda could just as well have said, always in motion, the past is. :-) – Harry Johnston Dec 21 '15 at 20:14
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    The saw it the same way Old Spock saw the destruction of Vulcan in Star Trek. Which was also helmed by this little-known fella by the name of Abrams. – Martha Dec 21 '15 at 21:56
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    Yes, it seems Abrams has trouble with regard to distances in space. – flq Dec 24 '15 at 22:23
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    @flq Seems to me Abrams has a problem with continuity and things making sense in general. – Dronz Dec 28 '15 at 19:37
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    Yeah, it could probably do the Kessel Run in 6 degrees centigrade. – Spongman Sep 28 '16 at 1:01
10

From all I can see, it's chalked up to artistic license. The systems are not so close that they would see the attack; it was shown purely for dramatic effect.

  • 7
    So it's Delta Vega/Vulcan all over again. – user1027 Dec 18 '15 at 20:45
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    Exactly. Physics-schmysics. – Irishpanda Dec 18 '15 at 20:48
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    I'm beginning to think light just travels faster in Star Wars... – Milo P Dec 18 '15 at 21:06
  • 1
    you know that wings are needed to fly in space, and laser beams make noises when fired. – EngrStudent Dec 19 '15 at 0:22
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    @MiloPrice Naturally. That's why scientists increased the speed of light in 2208. – aroth Dec 21 '15 at 4:20
8

This is likely among the biggest logistical problems in regard to space physics in the Star Wars film universe thus far (up there with the visibly-spinning "galaxy" at the end of Episode V).

I didn't have the benefit of the novelization's explanation at the time of my viewing; as a moviegoer, here's how I reconciled the events at the time I watched the film from a scientific perspective:

All orbs in the "Hosnian System" were so close together visibly that it strained credulity (at least for me) to think that they were all individual planets, but instead a "system" of celestial bodies that included a main planet and natural satellites within a larger star system (like how we call Jupiter and its moons the "Jovian System"). It would seem to me that the best retcon to fix this plot hole would be to have "Hosnian Prime" and its satellites lie within the same star system as Takodana. That way, the propagation delay between its destruction and the visibility thereof from Takodana could be a matter of minutes rather than millennia.

That would be an elegant retcon that would only require the filmmakers to rewrite a map, but it appears as though the novelization's explanation (mentioned above) is the most official answer offered thus far.

  • Hopefully you will begin work on The Force Awakens Edit. Please also include the rate x time = distance considerations for the final battle, including the time to walk to the base and back, the time spent in base and talking/fighting, and include enough X-wings in the attack so that they can sustain losses at the rate shown for that entire time. As it was, it looked like about 12 X-wings went it, died at about one per 10 seconds, so given they must have been battling about 40 minutes, that's 40 x 60 / 10 = 240 X-wings... and... oh never mind. – Dronz Dec 26 '15 at 7:27
2

It's clear that spacetime just works differently in Star Wars. The millennium falcon can jump from system to system just by jumping to light speed. So either light moves faster, time moves faster (as seen from our perspective, it explains the visibly rotating galaxy somewhat) or the Galaxy far far away is just very small.

Same can be said of other things. Putting the mass of a sun in a rocky planet?

It's a fantasy universe. There is even magic in it (the force). So trying to put it into a scientific perfection is not relevant. This is the reason the midi chlorians sucked. The force is not scientific. Nothing is Star Wars is!

Furthermore the New Order wanted people to see and fear the destruction. So the projection of that destruction in other systems could be intentional.

  • So, because it makes no sense. Ok thanks. – Dronz Dec 26 '15 at 7:29
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    When they say "jump to light speed", it probably means a multiple of light speed. – Wouter Lievens Jan 3 '16 at 7:58
  • nothing massive can jump to light speed, they must jump into a bubble of spacetime that involves accelerating to lightspeed, then the physics of hyperspace allows them to travel down a lane at many times that speed. I think the first part of the jump must involve accelerating the ship to lightspeed in real space, before moving into hyperspace. – Dom Vasta Nov 15 '17 at 21:49
-4

Happy Star Wars Day!

I think I figured it out! Bear with me here.

Blaster bolts and Death Star beams are actually not lasers, nor made of light at all, but seem to be high energy solitons (much like ball lightning) that are folded over themselves into bolts or blades or what-have-you. You can see the structure of the bolt when Kylo Ren snags one out of the air.

Now an unguided soliton can't navigate through hyperspace on it's own, but it can't get to it's target on the other side of the galaxy in anyone's lifetime (not even Maz Kanada's) without cutting through hyperspace.

My conjecture is that there are a number of relay stations along the way with big hyperspace rings or portals that swoop up the beams and pass them along to a partner station where they blaze out. The beam leapfrogs it's way to target.

If this is true, it explains everything--why people can see it coming at them, why Finn can see a segment of it directed past the planet he's on, why Starkiller base doesn't seem to have to move its space gun around to readjust it's aim to hit different targets. It seems to fit most of the facts. It's where I'd put my betting money.

  • 1
    There are so very many things wrong with this answer that I don't know where to begin. – Valorum May 4 '16 at 16:07
-5

Because its during the day. Its a big explosion in the sky. Its night time on the other hemisphere of Takadona.

  • 3
    I think you may have misunderstood the question. OP is less concerned about general visibility (after all, the explosion is also viewable in daytime) than the fact that the light from the explosion should take several years to reach them. – Valorum May 16 '16 at 11:57
  • Considering Takodana is in the out rim and Hosnian Prime is somewhere in the inner or mid rim, it should take tens of thousands of years to reach them. – Dom Vasta Nov 15 '17 at 21:52

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