In the stargate saga in many occasions they transmit EM though the stargate. In particular in ST-A in S01E17 "Letters from Pegasus" they get to transmit a burst of data within 1.3 seconds. What would be the bandwidth that stargate can support for EM transmission?

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    Given that it regularly transmits groups of people, vehicles, etc., I'd say pretty damn huge. But in terms of EM, the only limit would be what the sender can transmit and what the receiver can receive. They have the entire EM spectrum to play with, so as big as that.
    – Tim
    Jan 22, 2017 at 19:49
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    Which is limited by our tech not the stargates tech
    – Naib
    Jan 22, 2017 at 20:23
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    @Tim They don't have the entire EM spectrum to play with. At the very least visible light is not coherently transmitted by the stargate (if it is transmitted at all).
    – Xantec
    Jan 23, 2017 at 4:32
  • It occurs to me that whatever size data they sent, they could have sent a lot more by load it it onto a large hard drive and chucking it through the gate. How many hard drives can you get through the gate within 1.3 seconds?
    – Simba
    Jan 23, 2017 at 15:08
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    @Simba Sneaker net—good point. Unfortunately, that probably wasn't practical because of the short window and the connection 'woosh' has to be physically avoided, the shield on the other end has to be disabled (via a transmitted code and acknowledgement), etc. The chance of not being able to pull off a physical transfer in that short a window was too high to chance it.
    – Mufasa
    Jan 23, 2017 at 17:36

2 Answers 2


It isn't exactly clear how stargates operate. They aren't simple wormholes in the classic scifi sense. Light doesn't pass through them. For example, if you look at the event horizon of an activate stargate you can't "see" through to the other side. My assumption is that they deconstruct matter which passes through their event horizon and then transmit the configuration of the object as information to another stargate which reconstructs the object at the other end. This probably means digital information.

The question of "how much bandwidth" probably relates to the surface area of the event horizon, assuming that an unbounded amount of matter can be passed into the stargate and transmitted as a stream. The "bandiwdth", then, is probably something like the total amount of information density available at some small length (let's assume planck length) spread over the surface area of the event horizon. This number would be astronomically high as it is clearly modeling state down to the atomic level... and maybe smaller. If you really want to do the math, I guess you could try to calculate how many bits would be required to model a homogeneous slice of neutronium (high density matter) with a surface area equal to that of a stargate. This assumes stargates can transmit neutronium. If you don't think they can, pick something with lower density.


In calculating the bandwidth, one has to also consider compression algorithms. Because of our ignorance with respect to what algorithms might be employed, I don't think we can calculate how much bandwidth the stargate actually provides. We can only calculate the upper bound of how much it could possibly need (as I described above).

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    A note on your assumption in the first paragraph: It's explicitly stated several times that matter is only transmitted as "discrete units"; this is their way of explaining why someone is capable of putting their arm in the event horizon and then pulling it back out; the Stargate doesn't actually send them to the other side until their whole body is across the event horizon. Matter is however deconstructed/reconstructed as they cross the event horizon (explaining why said arm doesn't stick out the other side), and stored in an internal buffer that in one episode, Teal'c gets stuck inside.
    – Izkata
    Jan 23, 2017 at 3:38
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    It's also not clear exactly what is being transmitted - in the one episode they accidentally go through a star which causes a high-mass material they are transporting (Naquadah?) to drop out of the wormhole and into the star. Given the thing with Teal'c, it's possible the stargate both transports the actual matter and a digital representation of what it's transporting. Jan 23, 2017 at 3:45
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    Compression algorithms don't actually get you any "free" bandwidth. They just make optimal use of the bandwidth you already have. If you have very homogeneous or otherwise predictable data, a good compression algorithm can make it smaller. But no compression algorithm can losslessly compress large quantities of random data. This is a well known theorem of information theory.
    – Kevin
    Jan 23, 2017 at 6:01
  • @Kevin - the good news is that most matter being transmitted through the stargate should have a lot of homogenous or predictable data -- transmit a person? That's a whole lot of water molecules. Highly compressible. Same with a vehicle: lots and lots of steel and plastic. You'll get awesome compression ratios from that. Same goes for pretty much any solid object you might want to send through a gate.
    – Simba
    Jan 23, 2017 at 15:06
  • The op is asking about EM. It is often stated that RF (radio frequencies) can be sent through the wormhole, and is what the SG teams used for data transfer—not atomic information encoded in a physical object as this answer suggests. Atlantis did not toss back a physical hard drive through the wormhole, for example.
    – Mufasa
    Jan 23, 2017 at 17:33

It's high enough not only to transport dense matter (humanoid replicators which are hinted at containing Neutronium, can), but also data transmissions of beam transporters, which was essential for Morgan Le Fay's precautions to safekeep Merlin. I don't know whether it also works with rings or Asgard transporter beams.

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