Related but not the same: What's the radius of the explosion caused by a single reactor ignition of the Death Star superlaser?

The Death Star can shoot at targets with a "single reactor ignition" when there's no intent to blow up the planet in the process. While the linked question asks about the radius of the resultant explosion on the surface (which never received a conclusive answer anyway), I want to know how deep the superlaser can reach at this reduced level of power.

Given that the Death Star's superlaser can reach a planet's core at full power, how deep into the planet can it reach when fired with only a single reactor ignition?

Note: The deepest penetration is probably when the Death Star fires from directly overhead (perpendicular to the surface) as at Jedha, rather than any angled shot like the one at Scarif.

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    My opinion: Both questions I assume would rely on how long the blast was held and the density of the planet. With unlimited power even a single core blast could envelope a planet. As far as how deep it could puncture it would depend on the density of the planet, but again I think it is safe to say it would eventually reach the core on its own like a drill. I think the correct question is how much energy is released from each core per second... but that has never been addressed as far as I know. With that information you could calculate anything.
    – Odin1806
    Commented Jul 30, 2017 at 18:51
  • That appears to be unanswerable. We see some surface effects but never the final state of the blast zone. What's going on underground is anyone's guess. As a first-order estimate, we could assume spherical shape of the affected volume of planetary matter, in which case depth equals the radius of the surface blast. Attempt at estimating the latter is in the linked question.
    – void_ptr
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 19:27
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    while the question is posed as seeking an in-universe answer, short of very specific in-universe canon evidence, any answer will flirt with real-world physics and quickly make this drift towards off-topic
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 19:29
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    It can reach exactly 1.95 plotmeters. Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 21:49

1 Answer 1


In order to answer this, we first need to know how the Death Star's super laser destroys a planet. When the blast hits a planet, it penetrates the surface and reaches the core. The force of the impact pushes the core, as well as everything between the core and the blast, onto hyperspace. This results in the planet imploding, followed by the final explosion. The force of the impact also behaves like a nuke going off (blinding light and shockwave). With that said, the superlaser clearly puts even the csar bomba to shame.

For the purpose of this question, I'm using a perpendicular angle of attack. Next, I'm looking at the blast on Jedha. The result of the blast seen in Rogue One causes the crust of Jedha to start rolling over itself like a wave. This indicates the blast went clean through the crust, as the force of the blast was more than the surface of Jedha could absorb. In addition, if the planet has a mantle similar to earth, then the blast probably stopped partway through the mantle. This would at least release an incredibly high amount of energy and pressure into the mantle, causing it to find the path of least resistance to release the energy and pressure. This would again be the crust, violently breaking through the damaged crust. This means the blast could easily reach 100 km deep. It probably would not go more than 500 without completely destabilizing the planet.

  • well....that needs some supporting documentation
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 18:48
  • This is entirely based on what I've seen presented in the movies, and my educated guesses as to what the effects of the laser hitting a planet would be. Feel free to give your arguments against what I said.
    – saxdude1
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 18:52
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    The claim that the superlaser blast involves hyperspace - that, above everything else, needs some sources. As written that's fan fiction.
    – void_ptr
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 19:19
  • It may no longer be canon since it's part of legends, but how the superlaser works is described in the novel death star.
    – saxdude1
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 19:26
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    "It may no longer be canon since it's part of legends, but how the superlaser works is described in the novel death star." - that novel wasn't canon when it was written. It was Expanded Universe which by definition was not movie canon.
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 19:27

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