It was mentioned many times in Star Trek: Enterprise that the thermobaric cloud surrounding the Delphic Expanse would let you into the Delphic Expanse, but not let you out of the Delphic Expanse. One mention is in mind which was done by space pirates.

The Andorians followed Enterprise NX-01 to the Delphic Expanse to obtain schematics for the Xindi super weapon (to use it against Vulcans). They returned after their mission failed. Shran's appearance in the Sol system during final combat against the Xindi super weapon confirms that they returned successfully.

As far as I know, the Andorians didn't have a technology like the Xindi's subspace vortex travel. How did they cross the thermobaric cloud barrier without it?

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    Dang it, that's what I was going to ask! Jan 11, 2013 at 16:18
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    I believe they used a portable plot hole device.
    – BBlake
    Jan 11, 2013 at 19:06
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    I'd have to actually go watch the entire season again + the last episode of the prior season to be sure, but I think that wasn't actually true. It was just (one of) the Bermuda Triangles of space - the thermobaric cloud messed with sensors to keep you pointed inwards. If you didn't rely on sensors, or configured them differently (perhaps the Andorian default), you could get out. Or something like that..
    – Izkata
    Jan 12, 2013 at 0:09

2 Answers 2


The thermobaric cloud barrier surrounding the Delphic Expanse was dangerous but it was not the greatest danger in this region of space.

  • If navigated slowly, the thermobaric cloud could be bypassed if traversed at sublight speeds.
  • Yes, it can manifest as a cloud-like nebula but its nebula-like visible appearance is not the threat.
  • As dangerous as the cloud was, it masked a field of generators creating anomalies which wear down and destroy ships, disrupting ship functions or even distorting the physical universe causing inversions in matter such as turning crews inside out or driving crews insane such as what happened on the Vulcan ship, Seleya.**

Mapping the Delphic Expanse

A map of the sphere generators creating the anomaly field of the Delphic Expanse. These spheres were created by the ingeniously named Sphere Builders. Each sphere generated a gravimetric field distorting subspace and were individually cloaked.

  • In 2153, Captain Archer and the Enterprise NX-01 were sent to investigate the Xindi and their development of an unknown Xindi superweapon being constructed in the Delphic Expanse.

  • It appeared the Andorian ship, Kumari lead by the Andorian Commander Thy'lek Shran was perfectly content to let Enterprise navigate into the Expanse absorbing the damage presented by the anomalies of the Expanse and mapping their locations.

  • Once the Enterprise had been seriously damaged, they were rescued by the Kumari who continued into the nebula to find the test weapon of the Xindi. The Kumari also had a map of the anomalies so they could navigate their way out of the Expanse once they had collected the Xindi super-weapon.

  • You missed the main point of one-way travel. Space pirates were able to enter delphic expanse with their inferior tech, but unable to exit with the same tech.
    – Ragnarok
    Jan 12, 2013 at 5:20
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    I disagree. Anyone could enter the expanse. If you were in a rush, if you didn't pay attention, if you weren't very careful, you could die. It was not about the level of technology, it was about the level of care taken. Think of it more like a pilot who knows a particular waterway, if nothing much changes, you could go into it, hide out and wait for someone who doesn't know the way and take advantage of their inability to navigate effectively. If someone were chasing your ship, you might be less careful and end up dead. Jan 12, 2013 at 5:24
  • The thermobaric mine field was meant to take advantage of people who were not careful, or who rushed into or out of the Expanse. Jan 12, 2013 at 5:27
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    But, the space pirates said they tried everything to exit.
    – Ragnarok
    Jan 12, 2013 at 7:14
  • It did not mean they were as technically competent (or had as high a quality of technology) as the crews of the Enterprise or the Kumari. We have no idea what the condition of their ship either. Were their sensors still operational? We just don't know what might have kept them from escaping when the Andorians and the Enterprise managed to find their way out. Jan 12, 2013 at 8:31

Shran stated:

he followed them through the vortex

He said he was able to track them, that's assuming he meant through the vortex, of course.

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    If I recall right, he stated that was how they go into the expanse, not out of it as the question is asking
    – Izkata
    Aug 2, 2014 at 4:22

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