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Like something going at warp hits a planet, star, another ship, moon, satellite, alien, tribble, etc....
Basically, can stuff in subspace (warped stuff) hit stuff in real space (not warp)?

Star Trek: The Voyage Home shows us clearly that entering warp speed within Earth's atmosphere has no adverse consequences for the starship or the environment. HMS Bounty went through miles of atmosphere, dust, birds, and clouds and nothing entered the warp bubble to hit her. Enterprise did this again by dropping out of warp in Titan's atmosphere. Someone once asked why Enterprise specifically never hit things which explains some tech used, but now we have to ask if there is even a hazard of collision at warp. Has there ever been a collision in the franchise - any normal object being hit at warp speed? (This obviously doesn't include things traveling at warp together, like photon torpedoes from one ship to another).

Closest example I found: In Star Trek: The Motion Picture Enterprise attempts warp before balancing their warp drives and creates a wormhole instead. They nearly collide with an asteroid which was already inside the wormhole, but neither the ship not the asteroid were traveling at warp.

Compressing Space
Real-world (non-canon) attempts to explain ST warp technology rely on compressing space itself in front of the vessel. The image sequence below from Star Trek: Into Darkness (canon) shows Enterprise warping past the USS Vengeance and confirms that Enterprise actually gets smaller (or compresses the space around it). The light on Vengeance shows that at the instant the two ships are side-by-side Enterprise looks like a toy beside it. (Large image needed for detail - sorry):

Entering Warp

Thus objects at warp occupy less real space - possibly none at - because they now exist in subspace, which according to Memory-Alpha is implied to be the medium which FTL travel happens. Normally subspace and real space do not interact. When they do it is called a subspace anomaly.

Also, objects inside the warp bubble are not moved by the warp drive:

The observer(spaceship) is still immersed in the interior of the warp bubble and this bubble is carried out by the spacetime ”stream” at faster than light velocities with the observer at the rest with respect to its local neighborhoods inside the bubble feeling no g-forces and no accelerations. (p. 25)

It is my belief that to be consistent with warp bubble physics derived from the Einstein Field Equations in general relativity, the ST interpretation of warp speed travel should not allow collisions between n-space objects and objects within a warp bubble and remove the phenomenon from any plotlines such that warp travel is intrinsically safe for the traveller, but possibly greatly impactful for the normal world outside.

But has it happened?

Points of clarification raised by comments

Deflector Shields: Yes, ships have them. Gene Roddenberry envisioned Navigational Shields which would deflect anything in front of the ship, from a single hydrogen atom to an asteroid (see his notes below).

Gene Roddenberry Writer's Guide

It's important to note that much of what he had in this guide was changed in final production. In fact, based on this guide we could write an entire episode on a simple deflector sabotage resulting in them hitting a hydrogen atom. Real science calculations tell us that even hitting a photon of light would release incalculable energy.

These notes very much explain the many questions asking why ships don't go to warp inside a solar system. Solar systems are FULL of particles and debris, which would require a great deal of energy to deflect. Interstellar space simply draws less power because the shields work less.

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    I get what you mean (& agree that hard science treatments of warp bubbles generally claim that such collisions are impossible), but let's face it, ST doesn't have a great track record for being consistent with its own science laws. They're often bent, if the plot requires it, either blatantly, or with some feeble hand-waving, or retconning. BTW, in the real universe, space is very empty, as is demonstrated by the almost perfect uniformity of the CMB (to 1 part per 100000, once you adjust for the dipole anisotropy due to proper motion). – PM 2Ring Sep 14 at 16:00
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    I'm not sure where the contradiction is supposed to be between "the navigational deflector can deflect small particles so that they don't destroy the ship" and "but it can't deflect whole planets". – Cadence Sep 14 at 18:03
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    ... and Alcubierre sought to explore the possibility that our current best model of physics (Einsteinian) permits something resembling the warp drive as depicted in Star Trek. The issues concerning momentum and isolation between space inside and outside the bubble come from investgations into and understanding of Alcubierre's work which didn't exist when the nature of ST warp drive was effectively being defined by TOS stories, and effectively grandfathered into ST canon for all subsequent series and movies. – Anthony X Sep 14 at 19:23
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    If you couldn't hit things at warp, you wouldn't need the navigational deflector. – Valorum Sep 26 at 6:10
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    People are free to vote how they wish and how well they believe it answers the question whether it matches the OP's wishes or not. I've rolled back your edit. – TheLethalCarrot Oct 3 at 9:38
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+50

To the best of my knowledge there has never been a direct collision between a warp object and a non warp object within the main canon of TV shows and films in Star Trek, with the exception of warp capable torpedoes hitting static objects.

In the EU novel The Romulan Wars: To Brave the Storm, a captain sacrifices his vessel by flying it directly into a planet at warp speed. The resultant explosion is nothing short of catastrophic, especially when combined with the planet's uniquely volatile crust.

Archer stood before the main viewer, arms at his sides, clenching and unclenching his fists. On the screen, an entire world was aflame. What had once been a cradle of life was rapidly becoming a planet-sized crematorium. A volcanic fissure was opening right before Archer’s eyes, spewing magma skyward for tens of kilometers. According to T’Pol’s initial report, the multiwarp impact that Galorndon Core had just endured was even creating havoc with the planet’s magnetic field, unleashing all manner of unpredictable and potentially lethal atmospheric effects. Even the oceans appeared to be igniting.

...

“I can’t believe that the Raon just … rammed the planet at better than warp four,” Malcolm said, his tone tinged with shock. “Why would anyone do that?”

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    @VogonPoet - EU means that it's officially licenced, not that it's canon to the TV and Film universe. – Valorum Oct 1 at 21:59
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    @VogonPost - it says it right there on the front line in the first words that it is from an EU novel (all of which are not canon to the TV shows/films) – Valorum Oct 2 at 6:02
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    @VogonPoet - since there is no 'officially recognised' canon in the Star Trek universe it is down to individual users how they choose to take this paramount licensed work – Valorum Oct 2 at 6:59
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    @VogonPoet You appear to be assuming that Memory Alpha and their rules are in some way authoritative. – T.J.L. Oct 2 at 15:54
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    @VogonPoet - Memory Alpha is a fan-site, run by people who have zero connection to Paramount or Star Trek other than an interest in it. The EU novels are exclusively authorised by Paramount and have their own creative coordination to ensure that they don't go above and beyond acceptable limits imposed by Paramount on hand-picked authors. I'd argue that the novels are a light-year ahead of Memory Alpha in terms of canon. – Valorum Oct 2 at 17:39
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In "The Best of Both Worlds, Pt. 2" Riker fully intended to cause a warp / non-warp collision.

RIKER: Mister Crusher, ready a collision course with the Borg ship. You heard me. A collision course.
WESLEY: Yes, sir.
RIKER: Mister La Forge, prepare to go to warp power.
LAFORGE [OC]: Aye, sir.

Presumably, this would have been damaging to the Borg Cube and Enterprise.

  • and / or Enterprise. Still unsure how the whole thing would have played out. It's also possible that they were so close to the Borg cube that they would collide before reaching warp 1, meaning Riker wanted an extremely fast normal space collision. Reed in Enterprise: Broken Bow reminded us that warp speed isn't instantaneous, the ship accelerates and can hit stuff. – Vogon Poet Oct 3 at 17:45
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    @VogonPoet If it was only going to destroy Enterprise and not affect the Borg ship, I doubt they would have considered it a useful option. The original warp drives DID have to accelerate, but this was changed after TOS (with Excelsior class) having a Trans-Warp drive (different from Borq tech), which basically went from 0 to Warp instantly ( no acceleration). – Jack B Nimble Oct 3 at 17:47
  • great point, so... unknown. Still not automatic that Enterprise would be hurt, they will be behind a singularity after all. – Vogon Poet Oct 3 at 18:21
  • If they expected Enterprise to be undamaged, they wouldn't consider this a desperation tactic; instead it would just be routine. – Cadence Oct 6 at 22:24
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    The Last Jedi Gambit Which, in both instances, begs the question why aren't asteroids with warp nacelles on them the default weapon? – GordonBennett Oct 7 at 9:57
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The only time I am aware of (and I am currently rewatching ST, it's been quite a while before):

In Voyager - Think Tank (S5E20), the Think Tanks station is in subspace when the Voyager and the Hazari attack them. From Memory Alpha article about the episode:

The Hazari fire spatial charges, and the Think Tank's vessel is pulled out of subspace.

Important: they fire spatial charges. In the description of spatial charges of Memory Alpha, it is noted:

Spatial charges (or subspatial charges, when fired into subspace)

So, they fire spatial charges and are able to hit something in subspace. I.e., it is possible to hit something in subspace from space. Of course, this was not a natural phenomenon but one fabricated by Janeway but still demonstrates that it would theoretically be possible.


Looking at another way: transporter. Non-Warp to Warp is difficult (Memory Alpha Transporter Article):

Using transporters when a ship was at warp speed was very dangerous because warp fields created severe spatial distortions. (TNG: "The Schizoid Man") Therefore, transport at warp generally violated safety regulations. However, at-warp transport was attempted a handful of times, by making a few adjustments. These attempts were usually made under high-stakes combat conditions. (TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds", "The Emissary")

  • If both ships maintained exact velocity (that is, the warp field on both vessels must have the same integral value/factor), transport at warp speed was possible. Failure to maintain the same velocities would result in severe loss of the annular confinement beam (ACB) and pattern integrity.

  • If the ship was traveling at warp speed and the object to be beamed was stationary, transport was possible by synchronizing the ACB with the warp core frequency. This would cause difficulties in obtaining a good pattern lock. The Maquis were known to have used this method. (VOY: "Maneuvers")

  • Sometime before 2387, Montgomery Scott discovered the necessary formulas enabling transwarp beaming. These were passed on to his alternate reality counterpart, but using these to beam onto the USS Enterprise caused him to become stuck in a water pipe leading to a turbine. (Star Trek)

The important part is synchronizing the ACB with the warp core frequency. So, theoretically, if something were to have the same frequency as the warp core, it should be possible to enter the Warp field. If that has ever happend, I don't know. But I'd say, it's possible but very unlikely.

  • Where? What I could find: 'They could try using the multispatial probe but it would take weeks to scout the area. Subspatial charges could force the Think Tank's vessel into the open, but they'd need to find the ship first, which is almost impossible with their advanced technology.' However, there is no mention that the used charges were planted in subspace I could find. – Shade Oct 1 at 21:09
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    Well, it is the only time I am aware of we could say that something in subspace (and not warp) could've been hit by something out of subspace. So yeah, it might very well be that there never has been a warp / non-warp collision. – Shade Oct 2 at 6:19

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