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Prior to the events of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Carol and David Marcus had used the "Genesis effect" to transform a barren cave deep within the Regula planetoid into a lush environment teeming with life:

The Genesis cave. Light is shining in from a light source in the distance.

What was lighting the Genesis cave?

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The official novelisation contains an absolutely baffling explanation. In short, the "Genesis Effect" creates a matrix which surrounds the planetoid. That somehow includes manufacturing a miniature sun.

A forest stretched into the distance, filling the shell of the lifeless planetoid that had been Regulus I. It was the most beautiful place he had ever seen, a storybook forest from children's tales. The gnarled trees showed immense age and mystery. The grass in the meadow at the foot of the cliff was as smooth and soft as green velvet, sprinkled with wildflowers of delicate blue and violent orange. Where the shadow of the forest began, Jim half expected to glimpse a flash of white, a unicorn fleeing his gaze.

He looked at Carol, who leaned against the cliff next to the tunnel entrance, her arms folded. She smiled.

"You did this in a day?" Jim said.

"The matrix forms in a day. The life forms take a little longer. Not much, though." She grinned. "Now do you believe I can cook?"

He gazed out, fascinated at her world. "How far does it go?"

"All the way around," she said. "The rotation of the planet gives us some radial acceleration to act in place of gravity, to probably forty-five degrees above and below the equator. I expect things get a little strange out at the poles." She pointed past the sun. "A stress field keeps the star in place. It's an extreme variable; twelve hours out of twenty-four, it dims down to give some night. Makes a very pretty moon."

Later

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."

The light we're seeing is the light from outside the cave shining inwards rather than a light inside the cavern itself.

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    Thanks, @Richard. I'm actually quite glad now that I never read this particular novelization. – Praxis Jul 2 '15 at 19:47
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    @Praxis - Some of the novelisations are excellent. This one is decidedly not. – Valorum Jul 2 '15 at 19:47
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    Answer accepted. (This is not the answer we need, but the answer we deserve.) – Praxis Jul 3 '15 at 18:15
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    Wow, that makes no sense. But I also don't get your reading that the star is outside the cave. She says it "dims down to give some night" and "a stress field keeps the star in place"... which is mega-silly but I don't see where you get that it's outside the cave? – Dronz Dec 27 '15 at 0:29
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Considering that:

According to Carol Marcus, it had taken the Starfleet Corps of Engineers ten months to dig out the underground structure

(source)

on the planet Regula, it would seem that to dig it out, a tunnel was required. Consequently, it would seem that the light source formed the entrance of the tunnel. This then raises the additional question of how a breathable atmosphere was sustained on what was essentially, as Spock stated, "a great rock in space".

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According to Carol Marcus, it had taken the Starfleet Corps of Engineers ten months to dig out the underground structure

The Starfleet engineers dug out the little tunnel with the equipment they were in before Dr. Marcus took them to the Genesis Cave. The Genesis Cave was not tunneled by the starfleet Engineers.

This then raises the additional question of how a breathable atmosphere was sustained on what was essentially, as Spock stated, "a great rock in space".

So the Genesis Cave might never have had a hole leading to outer space. And if it did somebody might have put a transparent window in the hole leading out into space. And of course if the cave didn't have window out into space, somebody might have installed grow lights powered by an atomic reactor. Or the Genesis device might have created an artificial light source.

The Genesis Device created the breathable atmosphere in the genesis Cave from the atoms from the hole it made interior of the Regula asteroid, and if nobody left a door or window open the breathable atmosphere would stay there.

  • 1
    You should probably post this as a comment since it expands on a previous answer. – Organic Marble Jul 2 '15 at 14:06

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