So, in “The Force Awakens” when the First Order uses Starkiller Base to destroy the current seat of the Republic Senate, why are all the planets in that system so close together?

I realize that in the Extended Universe, the Corellian System was pulled together by a gigantic tractor beam and I could see that those planets might be closer than normal. But these planets shown are so literally close to one another that they could practically all be moons of each other. The only thing I could think was that these planets were all moons around a gas giant or something similar.

I realize their is artistic license and that the whole thing is a bit stretching of the imagination but this is what bugged me the most about that scene.

  • 7
    It sounds like this might be your first J.J. Abrams film. The answer is simple: they used the red matter.
    – Praxis
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 17:43
  • lol no...not my first jj abrams film.....that would solve the second question....why could people see it....but not the first....why were four worlds so close together... Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 17:48
  • 1
    I would at the very least prefer an attempted explanation other than "cooler visuals"........at least with the "why can it be seen across galaxies" you have "red matter" or in this case "hyperspace rip" or something...but 4 planets being like.....10 planets apart each......doesn't make sense Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 19:18
  • 2
    Because JJ doesn't care even a tiny little bit about whether it's realistic or not. There is no real-world-physics or real-world-cosmology answer that can possibly be applied to the question. The only answer is, "Because it's cool." Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 21:22
  • 2
    From an engineering point of view I find it implausible that multiple planets could be precisely hit from light years away on the first attempt. "Hold on ... Okay I think that's it. Try it again." - Every Engineer Ever
    – gotorg
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 22:07

2 Answers 2


For the same reason that Abrams thought Old-Spock and Kirk could see Vulcan get destroyed from the surface of Vega. Abrams clearly never read the following Douglas Adams passage:

Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space.


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.

  • Post this answer on scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/111089/… too; this seems to answer the question exactly.
    – Milo P
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 19:12
  • I am actually not looking for this. It was in my original question as a secondary question but everyone focused in on it so I removed it as that question has already been asked here. Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 20:16
  • I always retconned this in my head as it happening a long time ago in a galaxy far far away that was really really tiny. After all jumping to light speed seems to get you places in a hurry. Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 2:37

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.