At the end of The Empire Strikes Back the characters meet at the Rebel fleet's rendezvous point and look at an object that looks like a galaxy: enter image description here

So were they in intergalactic space or is this just some nebula?

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    I would lose rep for it but it is my opinion that Keen's answer is more authoritative than mine and should be the accepted answer. It's your choice but that is my two cents.
    – Null
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 17:58
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    To me, this always looked like a primordial star system. It looked too small, from the perspective shown in the movie, to be a galaxy. Canon probably disagrees, just an opinion.
    – Derek
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 2:01

3 Answers 3


It was supposed to be the galaxy, that is the galaxy that the films take place in. Essentially, the rebels had to flee the galaxy to find sanctuary. This was stated by Leland Chee (the fellow whose job it was to keep track of Star Wars canon) on the Star Wars message boards in 2003.

Q. what is the official explanation for the end of ESB when the main characters appear to be looking at the galaxy from a distance?

LC: Since that image (or one similiar from AOTC) has been used as the backdrop for published galaxy maps, I think it is pretty clear that it is the galaxy that you are seeing.

However, it has been inconsistently identified in EU materials over the years, leading to some debate on the subject.

  • +1 nice find! I've always heard it identified as the Star Wars galaxy but I didn't know Leland Chee had said so.
    – Null
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 17:55
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    So they are about four or five times its diameter away from it. Assuming a roughly 150kly diameter, they are looking at the galaxy as it was 500,000 years prior. Whoa... that means FTL lets them spy on the past very accurately by varying their distance and intercepting past emissions with radio/telescope/gravimeter... Come to think of it, I'm glad this idea never popped up in the story.
    – zxq9
    Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 2:32
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    @zxq9 This is a known property of FTL travel and has been used in a few books. For example Pandora's Star has people monitoring a star because they know something unusual happened to it but they don't know what so they go far enough away to see it before the change and then just start watching and wait.
    – Tim B
    Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 11:26
  • @TimB I figured I'm not the only person this has occurred to (though it dawned on me just as I was thinking of the story situation), but has it come up in Star Wars anywhere?
    – zxq9
    Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 11:30
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    @TimB - For that matter, it's referenced within Star Wars itself. In The Courtship of Princess Leia, Prince Isolder is talking to his future wife about some of the stars visible from Dathomir. When she asks about one that turns out to be a planet, he mentions that a good enough telescope would see life on the planet some 100+ years ago. Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 12:40

The answer is revealed in Legends. Wookieepedia cites Shield of Lies and Of Possible Futures: The Tale of Zuckuss and 4-LOM in revealing that the Rebel rendezvous point

was located beyond the Galactic Rim, far above the galactic equatorial plane and far away from any stars. It was beyond the galaxy's gravity well, making it a perilous journey to reach, one that many of the Rebel ships escaping from Hoth may not have been able to make. It is likely that the Rebellion suffered additional losses in the attempt to reach that point.

This means they are looking at the Star Wars galaxy.


The (canon) Star Wars factbook Star Wars Made Easy: A Beginner's Guide to a Galaxy Far, Far Away identifies the object as a protostar, not a galaxy.

movie scene of the characters looking at the object, captioned "The rebel fleet gathers near a protostar at the end of 'The Empire Strikes Back'"

Interestingly this conflicts with previous sources (such as the Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back - Radio Dramatization indicating that the rendezvous point was on the very edge of the outer rim, looking back into the Star Wars Galaxy.

Threepio: May I ask what is the latest word on the rallying of our forces?

Leia: It's better than we thought at first, Threepio. Just about everyone who got off Hoth made it here. So, we've got some supplies, a bit of fighter cover. Our losses in ships and lives weren't as bad as they might've been. Most of the Starfleet was busy chasing the Falcon.

Lando: So you're not just gonna sit out here on the rim of the galaxy much longer, hmm?

  • That doesn't fit with the picture; see the comment from zxq9 on the accepted answer. Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 12:35
  • That may well be the case, but the evidence is what it is. Perhaps the window is projecting an artificially intelligence image like Palpatine's view screen on the Death Star
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 12:53
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    @RedCaio - Ah. I was thinking of the view behind Palpatine when he was held captive on General Grievous' flagship; "The vast semisphere of the view wall bloomed with battle. Sophisticated sensor algorithms compressed the combat that sprawled throughout the galactic capital’s orbit to a view the naked eye could enjoy: cruisers hundreds of kilometers apart, exchanging fire at near lightspeed, appeared to be practically hull-to-hull, joined by pulsing cables of flame...
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 1:16
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    ..."Turbolaser blasts became swift shafts of light that shattered into prismatic splinters against shields, or bloomed into miniature supernovae that swallowed ships whole. The invisible gnat-clouds of starfighter dogfights became a gleaming dance of shadowmoths at the end of Coruscant’s brief spring." - youtube.com/watch?v=xBbGmkMGyok
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 1:16
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    It's possible that both are true: they've traveled to a rendezvous point far outside the galaxy near a protostar (off-camera) and are looking back at the galaxy (visible) The caption above merely states that they've gathered near a protostar, not that the object they're LOOKING AT is said star. Perhaps not the spirit of the caption, but it seems the best way to reconcile the two sources. Commented Oct 13, 2021 at 16:22

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