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Is it teleportation, making a wormhole, or something else? Does it always exist and people just go into it, or does someone create it for themselves when they jump? Does it manipulate time?

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    You might want to indicate what sources you are looking to find answers in. I have posted the answer implied by the original trilogy of films, but there are likely to be other explanations in extended universe works.
    – Buzz
    Jan 2 at 22:51
  • How does Star Wars matter, here? Though the Question might have been inspired by Star Wars, you seem to be Asking simply what hyperspace is. What did I miss? Jan 3 at 21:28
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    @RobbieGoodwin different franchises often have different forms of hyperspace. Hyperspace in SW is influenced by matter in realspace, which is why it requires hyperspace lanes for safe travel. Hyperspace in the Stargate franchise, for example, doesn't appear to have the same limitation.
    – jaxad0127
    Jan 3 at 21:37
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    @RobbieGoodwin For a more extreme example, look at Warhammer 40k; that's a very different type of hyperspace than SW or SG. Since we're talking fiction here, what hyperspace means can very greatly. So referencing SW in the question is appropriate, as the questioner wants information relevant to that franchise.
    – jaxad0127
    Jan 3 at 21:47
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    @jaxad0127 If you think the Question was meant to be "How is is hyperspace different in Star Wars?" that's up to you. If the Question is as written, "What is hyperspace in Star Wars?" then don['t you see how lazy it looks? Jan 3 at 22:15
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It is a 'dimension of space-time', 'coterminous with realspace'.

For those who are unfamiliar with hyperspace, it is a dimension of space-time that can be entered only at faster-than-light speeds. While the most knowledgeable astrophysicists and astrogation experts admit that some aspects of hyperspace remain a mystery, it is understood that hyperspace is coterminous with realspace: each point in realspace is associated with a unique point in hyperspace, and adjacent points in realspace are adjacent in hyperspace. In other words, if you travel 'north' in realspace as you jump into hyperspace, you will head 'north’ into hyperspace too. Also, every object in realspace has a ‘shadow’ in hyperspace. For example, there is a star (or star- like body) in hyperspace at the same location as it occupies in realspace. Such 'shadows’ are potentially lethal obstacles for travelers in hyperspace, which is why pilots rely on astrogation computers to plot courses around the mass shadows, allowing travel from one point in realspace to another.

Star Wars: Millennium Falcon Owners' Workshop Manual

It is usually referred to as an 'alternate dimension'.

Hyperdrives allow starships to travel faster than the speed of light, crossing space through the alternate dimension of hyperspace. Large objects in normal space cast “mass shadows” in hyperspace, so hyperspace jumps must be precisely calculated to avoid collisions.

Star Wars Databank: Hyperdrive

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    This implies hyperspace is exactly like real space except "smaller", which in my opinion is indistinguishable from "going faster".
    – user19087
    Jan 3 at 7:10
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    "can be entered only at faster-than-light speeds" -- muh, and since one can't travel faster than light in realspace, no one can't get to hyperspace?
    – ilkkachu
    Jan 3 at 9:16
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    @JohnOmielan I don't think that meaning of "hyperspace" is standard, outside of the textbook mentioned in that question. For a subspace of dimension n-1 inside a space of dimension n, I've almost always seen and heard the term "hyperplane", not "hyperspace". In occasions, the word "hyperspace" is used to mean "a space whose dimension could be more than 3", to make a clear distinction with the world's physical 3d-space, and I think most mathematicians I know would assume that meaning; although in practice, everyone just says "space" and never "hyperspace".
    – Stef
    Jan 3 at 10:10
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    @user19087 Probably more like (going faster) ²
    – Misha R
    Jan 3 at 14:11
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    @ilkkachu: I know, right? In most sci-fi settings, hyperspace exists to allow effectively-FTL travel without violating relativity. In Star Wars, the world-building details exist to explain / justify movie dialogue that sounded cool but presumably wasn't thought through in physics terms, like the fact that characters say "make the jump to light-speed". Or "made the Kessel run in under 12 parsecs". Thus going to or past light-speed must be how you enter hyperspace, if you take that dialog to it's literal meaning without going one step further to worry about actual physics. Jan 4 at 13:02
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It’s not entirely clear, and the explanation varies based on the source you look at.

There are only a few things that are generally consistent about hyperspace across all major canon:

  • It allows FTL travel in some way.
  • For most races, it requires special technology to utilize it, which is lacking on some starships. Two notable examples of ships lacking a hyperdrive in the primary canon being most TIE fighters (with the notable exception to the exception being Vader’s TIE Advanced) and the Delta-7 Aethersprite and Eta-2 Actis light interceptors used by the Jedi in Episodes II and III (the big ring things with engines they dock with are external hyperdrive units).
  • Some space-based life has evolved to utilize it. The sole example in current canon are the purrgil, seen in some episodes of Star Wars: Rebels.
  • It is affected in some way by gravity wells. In most sources where this is explicitly mentioned, it’s implied that you can’t jump at all if you’re deep enough in a gravity well and that passing through a gravity well while in hyperspace pulls you out of hyperspace (the Imperial Interdictor-class Star Destroyers, seen in numerous recent sources, work on this principle). In some other cases it’s implied that you can jump inside a gravity well, it’s just really dangerous and it may not be possible to get beyond the gravity well.

Beyond that, it’s all speculation. The special effects in the original releases of Episodes IV and V for hyperspace travel look suspiciously similar to the VFX for warp speed in Star Trek. The special effects in at least some releases of Episode VI and most of the media since then look suspiciously similar to the time tunnels seen on occasion in Doctor Who. None of the movies ever get into an explanation of how it works, and I’m pretty sure none of the TV series do either.

The exact explanation in current canon appears to be that it’s an alternate dimension of time and space. Exactly what that means is unclear though (it could be referring to the compressed space produced by something like a warp drive, or it could be some parallel reality, or it could even just be an on-demand wormhole).

The primary explanation in the comprehensive legends canon appears to be somewhat similar and a bit more fleshed out, with the description being relatively consistent with what ‘hyperspace’ usually means in most modern sci-fi (that is, an alternate dimension with a 1:1 mapping of points to realspace, where physics are altered from realspace just enough in some way to allow much faster transits between two points than would normally be possible between the associated points in realspace).

Some older third-party extended universe sources have descriptions which are inconsistent with this, but they are mostly ignored in other media.


All of this is nice, but the reality is that Star Wars is science-fantasy, not science-fiction, and hyperspace, alongside most other ‘technology’ was really just supposed to be magic. FTL travel is a necessity for the type of story being told, so it has to exist in some form, but because the way it works is not actually relevant to the plot (well, in any of the original media it’s not, some extended-universe stuff actually does include stories where how it works is relevant) it never gets explained. This is one of numerous examples of Lucas doing a good job of adhering to the core principle of good drama: ‘Only include details that matter to the plot or are required to set the mood.’.

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    Upvoted for the "science-fantasy" part after the last divider. As that great philosopher Triumph the Insult Comic dog once said about a similar Star Wars question, "The correct answer is: Who gives a sh*t?"
    – T.E.D.
    Jan 4 at 21:17
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From the original trilogy, it is evident that "hyperspace" is just a name, and the travel does not appear to take place outside of normal space. There are are at least two definite indications of this.

First, note that as ships accelerate to hyperspace speeds, they see the stars stretch out, indicating that they have reached faster-than-light speeds while still seeing starlight in normal space.

Second, Han Solo's description of hyperspace navigation in A New Hope indicates that normal-space objects are still obstructions to craft traveling through hyperspace.

Han: Traveling through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, boy! Without precise calculations we could fly right through a star or bounce too close to a supernova, and that'd end your trip real quick, wouldn't it?

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    Later works have probably retconned this, but for me, original trilogy canon always wins.
    – Buzz
    Jan 2 at 22:52
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    But even in Return of the Jedi, we see that the stretching stars thing only happens when transitioning into or out of hyperspace, the actual hyperspace trip looks like traveling through a cloudy blue tunnel -- see the second gif in this answer.
    – Hypnosifl
    Jan 3 at 4:49
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    @AndresF. - archive.org has a scan of an original 16mm print, If you go to 1:33:20 you can see the blue cloudy tunnel was there in the original (you can verify that this isn't a print of a special edition if you go to 12:20 where the musical number in Jabba's palace features a non-CGI Sy Snootles). It's very brief so it's not surprising one wouldn't remember it from childhood viewings.
    – Hypnosifl
    Jan 3 at 17:37
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    @O.R.Mapper - In the EU/Legends (and now in the Disney canon) it was explained that large masses in real space like stars cast a mass shadow in hyperspace. Based on the "sources" section of the Legends part of the wookieepedia article, it looks like this term was first published the 1987 roleplaying game, though this article mentions some parts of the RPG drew on "archival material" from Lucasfilm.
    – Hypnosifl
    Jan 3 at 17:55
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    @Luaan - Celestial bodies and groups of bodies are all moving, rotating, and orbiting around other things independently of each other, so it isn't tough to imagine that any calculation that has to take a large amount of them into account would get very wild very quickly.
    – T.E.D.
    Jan 5 at 13:47

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