When Dr. Carol Marcus designed the Genesis Device, it was meant to be detonated on the surface of a planet or moon.

When Khan set off the Genesis device, it was aboard a ship inside the Mutara Nebula and not on the surface of a planet or moon.

Seconds after the Genesis device detonates, there is a planet that looks like it is covered in huge lava lakes.

Within days (hours?), that planet is capable of supporting life.

Did the device create the planet?

Did it terraform a planet within the Mutara Nebula?

Did it terraform the planetoid where stage 2 of the Genesis Project was conducted underground?

Please provide answers supported with quotes from canon sources.

  • 6
    I guess it made a star to orbit in its habitable zone, too? That's some fine engineering!
    – Schwern
    Nov 24, 2020 at 8:55
  • The protomater used in the matrix + the antimatter from the Reliant couldn't have helped the stability of the planet Nov 24, 2020 at 9:05
  • Genesis Device. You can't explain it! FEDSCBU info dump: Explains Genesis Device. Nov 24, 2020 at 18:21

2 Answers 2


Various quotes from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock would seem to indicate that the Genesis Device formed a brand new planet within the Mutara Nebula.

"We are assembled here today to pay final respects to our honoured dead. And yet it should be noted that in the midst of our sorrow, this death takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new world, a world that our beloved comrade gave his life to protect and nourish. He did not feel that sacrifice a vain or empty one... and we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings. Of my friend, I can only say this. Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, ...his was the most ...human."

Captain Kirk ~ Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

"U.S.S. Enterprise. Captain's personal log. With most of our battle damage repaired, we're almost home. Yet I feel uneasy and I wonder why. Perhaps it's the emptiness of this vessel. Most of our trainee crew has been reassigned. Lieutenant Saavik and my son, David are exploring the Genesis planet which he helped create. And Enterprise feels like a house with all the children gone. No, more empty than even that. The death of Spock is like an open wound. It seems that I have left the noblest part of myself back there ...on that newborn planet."

Captain Kirk ~ Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

"Impressive. ...They can make planets."

Maltz ~ Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

This is consistent with the fact that the Genesis Device was not visibly detonated near any existing planets or moons, and that planets are believed to be formed by the coalescence of matter within nebulae anyway. Apparently, the Genesis Device simply accelerated that process.

  • 1
    Stars form from nebulae, planets form later from dust clouds around the stars. But I suppose you can say that the dust was also in the nebula, just waiting for the star to attract it. Kind of like saying that an avalanche comes from a snowfall.
    – Barmar
    Nov 24, 2020 at 15:41
  • 1
    @Barmar - Yes, a star would form within a nebula before any surrounding planets, but all the matter would already be part of the same nebula. Apparently, the Genesis Device accelerated this entire process to create both a new star and a new planet from the matter within the Mutara Nebula. Nov 24, 2020 at 19:58
  • 2
    Presumably, this was only possible because the Genesis Device was detonated within a nebula. Had it detonated in open space, it likely would've resulted in little more than the initial explosion, since there wouldn't have been enough matter within the device itself, or the USS Reliant, to do very much with. This is why it would normally need to be detonated on an existing planet or moon. Nov 24, 2020 at 19:59

According to the official novelisation for Wrath of Khan, the Genesis planet formed from the gas of the nebula and other matter that it encountered, including the Reliant itself.

Reliant dwindled to a speck in the viewscreen.

The speck became light.

The Genesis wave hurtled toward them through the nebular dust, dissolving everything in its path. Jim watched, his hands clenched. Saavik forced one more warp factor out of the straining ship, and it plunged from the nebula into deep space.

The huge collapsed cloud began to spiral around the nexus that had been Reliant. It quickly coalesced, shrinking behind them. Kirk watched, awed.

Interestingly, the genesis wave also created the sun around which the Genesis planet would ultimately orbit.

"Spock," she said aloud, "can you see what has happened? Are you there? Are you anywhere? A world has formed; the Genesis wave is still resonating within the nebula, forming a new sun to give the world light and sustain its life. Soon the wave will die away, and the universe will have another star system. But it will be one among millions, one among billions, and you taught me to value uniqueness. Your uniqueness is gone."

  • 1
    IIRC Enterprise is orbiting Regula and moves to the nebula on impulse in a matter of minutes or hours. So the nebula was within a star system? What happened to the star?
    – Schwern
    Nov 24, 2020 at 9:03
  • 1
    @Schwern I don't know whether the Regula asteroid was part of a star system or a rogue asteroid in insterstellar space. In the form cases the radiation from the star could clear all the gas and dust in the nebular from the area around the star, including the Regula asteroid. I always thought that the star preexisted. Nov 24, 2020 at 15:40
  • 1
    @Schwern: Bad writing. The nebula only makes sense outside the star's SOI, or a decent fraction of a light year away.
    – Joshua
    Nov 25, 2020 at 3:32
  • Creating the star should have been outside the device's abilities. Stars are MUCH bigger than planets. Nov 25, 2020 at 18:39
  • @ShawnV.Wilson - Oh sure, because magically creating a planet is sensible and realistic but creating a star is just a nonsense.
    – Valorum
    Nov 25, 2020 at 18:48

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