From the answer posted on this thread, I was wonder what is meaning of Ether in reference to the Star Wars franchise.

Luke focused on the emptiness of space beyond the window behind the Emperor’s chair. The deep void, where nothing was. Nothing. He filled his mind with this black nothing. Opaque, save for the occasional flickering of starlight that filtered through the ether.

What I found about ether on Wikipedia is that "it is class of organic compound".

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    It's the luminiferous ether, the stuff that fills empty space, or used to "long long ago".
    – user14111
    Dec 25, 2015 at 9:00
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    @user14111 I think it's funny that people no longer believe the ether exists, when in reality it does a fine job of describing space itself.
    – user11521
    Dec 25, 2015 at 18:33
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    @Michael "ether theory" was about the concept of having a material that permeates space and that carries light waves the same way as physical material carries sound waves. It turned out that carrying light waves is quite different from carrying sound waves, but we now have a new form of "ether" which seems to behave like a special kind of superconductor (see also: Higgs mechanism). So, yes, the ether is still alive. Dec 25, 2015 at 18:51

2 Answers 2


This isn't really a Star Wars questions, but a question of the English language, though it's a bit archaic. Searching past the first Google hit for the organic compound, we can find it in several online dictionaries:


  1. A substance (aether) once thought to fill all space that allowed electromagnetic waves to pass through it and interact with matter,

  2. (poetic or literary) The sky or heavens; the upper air.

From Old French ether, from Latin aethēr ‎(“the upper pure, bright air”)

Or in Merriam-Webster.com:

1a : the rarefied element formerly believed to fill the upper regions of space

1b : the upper regions of space : heavens

2a : a medium that in the wave theory of light permeates all space and transmits transverse waves

Basically, it's a poetic expression that means "emptiness", and specifically the emptiness that light travels through, as in your quote.

  • 1
    quick answer...tnx a ton.
    – Karan Mer
    Dec 25, 2015 at 9:05
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    Fun fact: in older (e.g. 1930s) science fiction, spaceships were sometimes called "ether ships".
    – user14111
    Dec 25, 2015 at 9:23
  • @user14111, to amend this, in Kurd Laßwitz 1887 novel "Two Planets" interplanetary spaceships where propelled by the slow release of "condensed ether". Dec 25, 2015 at 10:47
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    Doc Smith had spacemen wish each other “Clear ether!” (When I first saw this phrase, as title of a quarrelsome fan's apazine iirc, I thought it meant “Get off my frequency!”) — A key moment in the history of ether was the Michelson-Morley “ether wind” experiment. Nov 27, 2019 at 5:25

Ships in the Star Wars universe travel through a property known as "ether" which acts as a dragging force. This explains a considerable number of issues including why ships have a top speed, how explosions can be heard in space, why there's no overt worries about relativistic effects, why ships need to burn fuel constantly to maintain their speed, how tight turns are made and why TIE-Fighters don't need retro-thrusters.

Pablo Hidalgo (Head of the Lucasfilm's Star Wars Story Group) spoke to this in a recent tweet

PH: If you need to, you could say the interstellar medium in Star Wars does have an ether, which would explain such pulpy things as sound, concussion rings, visible drag, and such odd tech callouts as "an etheric rudder" from Heir to the Empire. Only if you ⋆really⋆ need to, though.

Like if it helps you sleep at night and whatnot.

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