The following contains spoilers for The Last Jedi

After the First Order fleet managed to catch up to the Resistance fleet, having successfully tracked them through hyperspace, the Resistance leadership realized that they were too low on fuel to risk making another hyperspace jump (especially if the First Order would simply catch up to them again). As a result, the Resistance leadership opted to simply keep enough distance from the First Order fleet to stay outside of their effective firing range. After the chase begins, we see three larger Resistance vessels still in play, and they maintain this strategy throughout most of the movie.

Prior to the film's climax,

two of the smaller vessels run out of fuel, and in each instance, we see the doomed vessel falling behind the main Resistance cruiser, which allows the First Order to deliver a killing blow.

Newton's First Law of Motion is usually stated that as "an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force."

So, if these fleets we simply "coasting" through space in a straight line (in other words, maintaining a constant velocity), then any Resistance vessel that ran out of fuel should be able to still keep up with the other vessels (in that scenario, I would assume that their fuel supplies were likely being drained by powering the ships' shields, electricity, etc.). The fact that the two smaller ships fell behind after losing fuel indicates to me that the two fleets were accelerating, as a ship that runs out of fuel would no longer have the ability to accelerate any further, and the other ships would outrun it (which could possibly look like it was actually falling behind, depending on your perspective). And constant acceleration would require a lot of fuel. From the look of it, the surviving ships could have been increasing speed, and they didn't appear to be changing direction, as far as I could tell. I'm aware that Star Wars isn't exactly known for its scientific accuracy, such as with there being sound in space, but for whatever reason, this stood out to me while watching the film. Is there anything in the film to indicate that these fleets were, in fact, accelerating? Or is that at least a plausible explanation?

Note: This question is similar to this one about how the Resistance was able to run out of fuel. Despite the similarity, I think that my question still warrants a seperate entry. My question

makes note of, and pertains to, the result of the ships that ran out of fuel, whereas the other user's question expresses skepticism at the idea of the fleets accelerating, arguing that it would only be a matter of time before they entered hyperspace (I'm not sure if that's how it works in Star Wars, so feel free to enlighten me on that as well, if relevant/necessary), and also seems to assume that it would be difficult for the Resistance to run out of fuel if they weren't changing their velocity.

  • 4
    As I pointed out in my comment on the other questions; In the Star Wars universe spaceships travel in a three-dimensional sea. If they stop accelerating, they come to a stop.
    – Valorum
    Dec 28, 2017 at 0:30
  • @Valorum Is there any further reading that you recommend that expands on this? Dec 28, 2017 at 0:32
  • No, but it would explain why TIE-Fighters don't need brakes.
    – Valorum
    Dec 28, 2017 at 0:34
  • 4
    If you just want a non-canon excuse: SW space ships use a technology somewhat similar to E. E. Doc Smith's inertialess drive. That would explain why they can accelerate so quickly with what don't look like especially powerful engines, why they come to a halt when the engines turn off, and why they can still travel between stars without a hyperspace drive. Newton's Laws don't apply to a spaceship whose inertialess drive is turned on, but do apply the rest of the time. Dec 28, 2017 at 1:48
  • 1
    It's the same reason Tie Fighters make that horrid screeching noise. It's scientifically inaccurate, but we don't care!
    – John Bell
    Jan 2, 2018 at 9:57


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