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In Star Trek (2009) movie, Narada appeared from a black hole. Well, I don't know how a black hole cooks spacetime to make time travel, but I know one thing for sure: No Event from inside Event Horizon can affect external observer. And, this makes it a one-way zone. Nothing can escape it. The warp-capable Enterprise had problems escaping from outside in the end of the movie. Even Narada failed to escape the black hole in Star Trek: Countdown comic series. How exactly did Narada escape the black hole in 2009 movie?

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    This is one of those cases where you just can't apply real-world science to a science-fiction world. Sorry. – Iszi Dec 11 '12 at 18:41
  • @Iszi I have used in-universe examples too. – I Love You 3000 Dec 11 '12 at 19:09
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The Answer: It didn't. It couldn't have. As far as we know, nothing can escape the event horizon of a singularity. (See: event horizon)

So what DID we see?

If you are like me, you hate when the laws of physics are violated; you want to call a space-time cop and arrest everyone involved. So how do we rationalize such inaccuracies in a way where we can sleep at night?"

This is my theory: When we see the Narada for the first time as it confronts the Kelvin, the Narada has not just escaped from a black hole's event horizon to appear in the past/parallel universe. It escaped from a slingshot event used to travel through time into the past. We are seeing the horizon to a temporal disturbance, not a black hole.

Narada appearing in the Past

No matter what Memory Alpha says, the Narada cannot escape from a black hole. Nothing can. Even in the time of the 24th century Prime Federation, a black hole cannot be escaped from once you cross the event horizon.

Okay, to make this premise, certain things need to be understood.

  • Star Trek Universe before it was altered (the Prime Universe)

  • Star Trek Universe after it was altered (the New Universe)

  • The New Universe is a parallel universe split away from the Prime Universe. The difference between this and the Mirror Universe, is WE were there. We are familiar with everything that happened in the Prime Universe so the idea that it is a parallel universe is difficult to handle. But it is just another reality, out of sync with the New Universe that now comprises the Star Trek franchise.

  • This new Universe is separated from the Prime one and technology from the Prime Universe has contaminated the new Universe, resulting in a more technologically advanced Federation.

I hypothesize, both Prime Spock and the Narada used a variation of the "slingshot effect" coupled with the variability of the supernova and the artificial nature of the "red matter" to travel through time.

  • The "red matter" would allow Spock to create a gravitationally-dense enough field to use as a gravity point for a lightspeed break-away maneuver. Since the Jellyfish (his hyper-advanced ship) used transphasic shields it could conceivably have survived the stresses of a lightspeed breakaway maneuver and is fast enough to reach warp 8, a speed sufficient for the maneuver.

  • Using warp capable torpedoes he could use the same delivery system he would have used to deposit the red matter at the center of the supernova and instead used it to create a point for his slingshot. (How the Narada survived is a different question...supposedly it was designed to survive gravitational extremes.)

The Jellyfish experimental series of space craft were designed to be equipped with trans-metaphasic shielding which was capable of withstanding conditions that would destroy most other starships. Through the use of this form of special shielding, the Jellyfish was capable of moving through more dangerous terrain and survive it such as the interior of a star. They were designed for use by a single occupant with the vessel being the size of a shuttle craft. It contained a warp drive which was able to attain warp eight as well as two weapon arrays at the front of the ship.

  • This is far more plausible than the Narada escaping from a black hole since we know theoretically it isn't possible. We also know that time travel and dimensional travel were both possible in the Prime Alpha Quadrant. Difficult, requiring a great degree of technological proficiency, but completely possible.

  • Time travel using the slingshot effect was done as early as 2267 in the episode "Tomorrow Is Yesterday." The Federation would use this technique to travel into the past and the Enterprise crew would use it to travel in time to retrieve whales to bring back into the future in "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home."

The slingshot effect, also known as the light-speed breakaway factor, was a method of time travel through the use of an artificially-created time warp. This maneuver was performed by traveling at an extremely high warp factor towards a stellar body with a high gravitational attraction, such as a star. After allowing the gravitational pull to accelerate the vessel to even faster speeds, the vessel would then break away from the stellar body, creating a whiplash effect which could transport the vessel through time. Performing this maneuver required extremely precise calculations to be made, such as availability of fuel components, acceleration, and mass of a vessel through a time continuum.

  • Dimension travel into the Mirror Universe or alternative dimensions was also possible if difficult and had been done as early as 2267 (a good year for trans-dimension and trans-temporal travel it seems) in the prime universe TOS episode "Mirror, Mirror."

The "mirror universe" is the informal name for the parallel universe first recorded as visited by James T. Kirk and several officers from the USS Enterprise in 2267. This parallel universe coexists with the prime universe on another dimensional plane. The mirror universe was so named because many people and places seemed to be opposites of their characteristics in the prime universe, with numerous "good" aspects now "evil" and vice versa, thus "mirror-like." (TOS: "Mirror, Mirror")

Here is where we run into problems:

  • The original premise for the "red matter" was to create an artificial singularity which would contain part or all of the destructive force of the supernova.

  • The only way for this to work was to fly INTO the supernova and unleash the singularity absorbing the supernova's destructive power, in effect causing it to collapse in upon itself again...

  • If the supernova were already in progress, this would not stop the inner planets of the solar system from being destroyed, only those at the edge of the event.

  • The outer planets would not be consumed by the stellar destruction but would still perish as the star would be erased by the black hole leaving an object whose mass had to be greater than the star it replaced to be effective at curtailing the explosion at all. Perhaps this would at least allow for time to attempt an evacuation of those remaining worlds.

My theory rests on the idea that Prime Spock would have seen his use of the "red matter" fail to control the supernova and attempted to escape by using a lightspeed breakaway factor since he would already be headed into the supernova anyway. Perhaps he thought he could conceivably try again, at an earlier time, perhaps he simply sought to escape the supernova. Since he had to be flying into the nova anyway, he may have thought of using the slingshot effect at the last second.

  • The Narada, seeing Prime Spock's ship, the Jellyfish, would attempt to pursue him thinking he caused the event. As they follow him, they are engulfed in the space-time event Prime Spock uses to escape.

  • Time travel being as unstable and unpredictable as it is, the Narada arrives first appearing from what would appear to be a black hole. I posit this is more of a dimensional wormhole from one universe to the next. It CANNOT be a classic representation of a singularity because nothing can escape the event horizon of a black hole, yet the Narada appears to quite easily re-enter the new universe.

  • At the end of the movie, Kirk fires on the Narada as it is consumed by the ignited "red matter" when the Jellyfish crashes into the Narada because he was unsure whether the singularity created by the red matter might move the Narada to another location and survive. This implies the "singularity" does not behave completely like a black hole and may have unstable qualities which separate it from a naturally occurring singularity.

Narada being consumed by singularity

According to writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, Kirk orders the Enterprise to fire on the Narada as it is being pulled into the black hole at the end of the film to prevent the ship from possibly emerging elsewhere and causing more chaos and destruction.

Production Notes

With all that said, know that the writers of the Star Trek (2009) have admitted taking many liberties with both the Star Trek franchise AND the laws of physics. For instance:

  • The writer's notes indicated the Narada is capable of surviving the intense crushing gravity found near black holes. Why? They didn't say. Some mumbling about Borg technology. Perhaps the Romulans mine neutronium or other superdense materials in their spare time.

  • They allowed the explosion near the end of the movie to disrupt the event horizon of the artificial singularity in order for the Enterprise to escape from the event horizon of a singularity? It warped space, er, um, something. What? That's what I said.

If you want to know more, see DarthMojo an entertainment insider for a complete rundown of how much of the movie ended up on the cutting room floor and why you still can't make sense of what you see in Star Trek (2009).

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    Just wanted to point out something that leads credence to your idea of it not really being a black hole; when the U.S.S. Kelvin first spots it, they talk to Starfleet about what it could be, because they do not know what it is. Starfleet doesn't know either. Presumably if it were a simple black hole Starfleet would know about it. – NominSim Dec 12 '12 at 7:41
  • Great answer & Kudos for your theory. But, I sense some canonical conflict with it. Doesn't Nero tell he was waiting for Spock for him to emerge from singularity? Actually, its not in my mind, but the black hole based time travel has been mentioned in the movie, I think. – I Love You 3000 Dec 12 '12 at 17:41
  • It is not singularity-based time travel. It is merely the use of a singularity as the central mass for the lightspeed break-away maneuver. Black holes have not been used officially for time travel in Star Trek. All it took was a star with the mass of our sun and the lightspeed break-away maneuver was possible. Nothing emerges from a singularity. They could be talking about it for casual communication, but that is an issue of language not science. It would be more accurate to say they were waiting for Spock to emerge from the "singularity-assisted event." – Thaddeus Howze Dec 12 '12 at 18:46
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    It would not actually be the first time that a starship emerged from a black hole; see Voyager, Season 1, "Parallax" (admittedly, an absolutely awful episode that showcased an awful understanding of physics). Anyhow, if a starship has the technology necessary to manipulate spacetime sufficiently to allow for the creation of a warp bubble, going through an event horizon isn't really that big a deal. – loghaD Dec 18 '12 at 22:18
  • The film "The Black Hole" is entirely about a ship that enters and exits a black hole. Simply because our current physical models suggest that exit is impossible, doesn't mean that this will be so for always. – Valorum Mar 18 '14 at 19:00
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Advanced magical technology. See also this interview where Countdown is revealed as non-canonical. Basically, the in universe answer is the Narada is advanced enough that it can cross the event horizon and the out-of-universe is that's how the writers wrote it for dramatic purposes. Star Trek often lets science take a back seat to drama, while their handling of such does try to be consistent, leading to their ranking on the scale

  • It doesn't matter Countdown was canonical or not here. If Narada exits the black hole, common sense says it was trapped by black hole in the first place.. no matter the story was revealed or not. – I Love You 3000 Dec 11 '12 at 19:13
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    actually, common sense would say that if it exited a black hole, it wasn't trapped by it. – sarge_smith Dec 12 '12 at 5:37
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Okay I don't know enough about physics (let alone quantum physics) to throw my hat into this debate but I'll give it a go.

I do recall these scenes rather vividly, which inspired me to design a starship capable of traveling through blackholes as a shortcut, versus going the speed (or beyond the speed) of light. I know that in theory nothing will survive intact beyond the event horizon of a black hole due to the tidal forces, which could be radiated far from the event horizon itself at times. Speaking of which, I have to wonder what the Narada was made of that kept the ship in one piece, if not counting also Prime Spock's Jellyfish.

My own personal theories are as follows:

  1. Perhaps a certain shield technology (or even energy/magnetic field) was created to surround the ships like a protective bubble thus no tidal forces would crush the ships.

  2. Regarding escaping the sheer gravitational pull (which has been noted as being infinite) it'd take a very vast amount of energy to pull it off. I theorize the power core of the Narada being akin to a star, or even a singularity of sorts. They never did show the Narada's power core, nor specify what it is. That last bit I'm just assuming

  3. Maybe what we saw in the film was more or less a spatial distortion that looks like a cross between a 'blackhole' and wormhole. I note that wormholes in films are usually more brightly colored but this one had a jet black center that emitted no light.

The main issue is that in real life, a blackhole absorbs all light, so it is not in fact black, but invisible on the color spectrum. Basically it could be in your face and you wouldn't see it, but you would see the spatial distortions surrounding it due to the bending of light from tidal forces around the event horizon. What strikes me as odd is that visually the red matter made the same type of 'distortion' that was seen at the beginning of the film the first time we see the Narada.

It was already mentioned before but I'll repeate it again: when it comes to science 'fiction', it's very hard to apply real world science to it to make logical sense out of what is seen in films or even video games.

Take for example the film Event Horizon. Supposedly that ship traveled through space by creating a blackhole in its' core. What I don't understand is whether the 'hole' appears on the outside or grows from the inside-out to consume the ship and take it elsewhere. Like a teleportation of sorts. shrugs Anyways, that's my two cents on the matter.

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Well, they have faster than light travel. That seems to strongly imply that their universe is not relativistic, and thus whatever they call "black hole" is not what we call a black hole.

If we keep to relativity as we know it, there is a way from the event horizon - back through time.

And if we stick to the (fantastical) notion of warping of spacetime, you could actually imagine the ship "breaking through" the horizon (shaping the spacetime in a way to actually make a way outside of the black hole - basically, negating its gravity locally).

Note that when they tried to get away from the black hole ("singularity"), they were running on full warp speed - ignoring the relativistic space-time geometry (or avoiding it via time travel), this might give them enough speed indeed to get out. And it wasn't quite enough! How could they observe the Narada if they were outside of the event horizon while it was "falling in", while being unable to get away from the black hole using mere impulse power, much less full warp?

I'd stick with "it wasn't really a black hole", personally. Really, it didn't exhibit any of the features we'd typically associate with black holes. Most likely it was some kind of technobabbular sub-space phenomenon (just like the "supernova explosion" that lead to its original deployment) entirely unrelated to what we can observe in our universe.

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The black hole might not have been a black hole, but here's the best part: upon entrance into the event horizon in the Prime Universe, the Narada would have been accelerated to warp velocities. Also, the Narada was likely warp capable. And actually, the Enterprise was inside the even horizon when it was at maximum warp but not moving out. It's just that the event horizon zoomed back to the warp-velocity one, where not even warp 9 can escape. And, as has been noted, if the Narada and Jellyfish moved through the singularity just right, then the gravitational "slingshot" effect would occur, further accelerating it. There's my application of science to science fiction.

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