In Stargate Universe why didn't the ancients use the wormhole drive(Used in SGA last episodes to get Atlantis to Earth) to get to the source of the strange signal that the main ship in SGU is heading to?

They made all this infrastructure to get there building gates and everything, why not just use the wormhole drive?

Sure, its dangerous, but they could have tried to send a probe first.


5 Answers 5


From the Stargate Wiki:

"This ship was launched to solve a mystery, not by arriving at some ultimate destination where all the questions are answered at one time, but by accumulating knowledge bit by bit."

— Nicholas Rush (Gauntlet, episode 20, season 2)

In other words, simply sending a probe to the far end of the Universe wouldn't have helped. The ship had to collect information from every point along the way.

This could be considered roughly analogous to very-long-baseline interferometry.

Presumably, the requirement to make continuous observations is also why Destiny didn't use the more conventional hyperspace drive, but a previously unknown technology that allows the ship to travel faster than light while remaining in real space.

(It would probably have been sensible to send out two ships, heading in opposite directions. But we don't know enough about the nature of the signal to be sure whether that would help, and of course we don't know for sure that there wasn't a second ship!)

  • Looks like we were working on this at the same time. You have a good point I hadn't considered. +1
    – Zoneman
    Commented Jul 26, 2015 at 1:14

For the same reason the Ancients never visited Destiny themselves: they ascended.

At the end of the war with the Wraith, the Ancients sank Atlantis and escaped through the Stargate to the Milky Way where they either died or ascended. Ascension might be a more direct route to learning about the superstructure or the very nature of the universe, and if not they seem to be engaged in other pursuits. It might not have even been possible for them to return to Atlantis to use the drive if they thought they could and decided they wanted to, given that the Wraith had effectively won. However, it might not even have been a reasonable idea.

McKay and Zalenka say that work on the Wormhole Drive was abandoned because of its instability, tremendous power requirements, and the difficulty of the calculations. With Atlantis at their disposal, McKay was only able to calculate the relatively miniscule jump from the edge of the Milky Way to Earth. Odds are that a jump to the edge of the universe would require nigh impossible amounts of energy, even for the Ancients, and some of the most complex calculations imaginable, if they were even solvable at all given that the destination, the superstructure, is a relatively unknown destination.

  • Both of your answers are awesome, too bad I can't accept both.
    – akaltar
    Commented Jul 26, 2015 at 9:19

Wormhole drive technology didn't exist when Destiny was launched

The Destiny was launched from Earth, some 50 million years ago.

Ancient wormhole drive technology was being developed on Atlantis, in their post-Earth civilization in the Pegasus Galaxy.

Gabriele writes: “3. Destiny is older than Atlantis. In “The Lost City” we come to know that Atlantis is about 30 million years old. The gate aboard Destiny is older than the ones in the Milky Way. In “Frozen” we come to know that the gates in the Mily Way are about 50 million years old. Is the Destiny about 60 million years old?”

Answer: Damn that’s old. If Destiny is older than the Milky Way gates then yes.

-Joseph Mallozi, Producer of Stargate Universe (and SGA & SG1), on his blog

So, we could be looking at a time difference between the technologies of 20-30 million years. As others have mentioned, the technology hadn't even been finished or used by the time the Ancients left Atlantis, but was finished by McKay for a relatively short hope from one galaxy to another. Keep in mind that Stargates could already be used to jump between galaxies with relative ease, using ZPMs, so it's a testament to the difficulty of the wormhole drive technology that it hadn't been used for in-galaxy or intergalactic jumps.

As to why they didn't later try to finish the technology anyway, one could argue it wasn't only because they achieved Ascension in the end, but prior to Ascension they were struggling with other issues, such as the war against the Wraith in the Pegasus galaxy.


There is no "source". The signal is part of the cosmic microwave background radiation, which permeates every point in space. Every point. Including where you're sitting right now.

There is no "place to go": there is a long journey across the universe to accumulate knowledge and data, in order to discover as much as possible about the nature of the universe given the suggestion that there is "something out there" that, at one time, caused the "signal" in the CMBR.

Also, the wormhole drive was experimental and unfinished when the Ancients abandoned Atlantis and moved back to relatively primitive Earth. Many of those folks subsequently ascended anyway.

  • 3
    @Hypnosifl The second(?) episode shows that Destiny's path is near-linear (with deviations to the nearest galaxy) towards the edge of the universe. The ship does have a destination outside the boundaries of the universe, it's not spiraling or anything like that to explore the whole universe
    – Izkata
    Commented Jul 26, 2015 at 16:08
  • 2
    @Izkata: So? Just because you travel in a straight line (almost) doesn't mean all you care about is what's at the end of that line. This trajectory, when compared with some sort of spiral form, is the most efficient way to cover as much distance as possible. One has to assume that getting further away from home territories was somehow important. After all, we can observe much about our locality without travel (consider telescopes, sensors and whatnot), so floating about in a tight loop around our locality would be suboptimal... and doing a spiral for full coverage would be infeasible. Commented Jul 26, 2015 at 16:44
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    Also I have no idea what you mean by "a destination outside the boundaries of the universe". Commented Jul 26, 2015 at 16:44
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    @Hypnosifl: I disagree. When the show says the mission is based on a detection in the CMBR, I am going to assume that it's the same CMBR that exists in our universe, until told otherwise. You're gonna make yourself crazy. You might as well start saying we require proof that humans in SG teams reproduce sexually before we can make any assumptions about the viability of a long-term colony. Commented Jul 26, 2015 at 17:27
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    You're comparing something every adult without cognitive disabilities can be expected to know with a fact about cosmology that only a small fraction of the population would know. I don't think you can assume writers of TV space operas have a high level of scientific literacy without direct evidence.
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Jul 26, 2015 at 21:14

Because there was no wormhole drive yet. Destiny used a primitive FLT drive that kept them at near-relativistic speeds. They were basically just going a little faster than light speed

  • 2
    Destiny was travelling much faster than light. (At light speed, it would take years to travel between solar systems, thousands or millions of years to get from one galaxy to the next.) Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 23:46
  • @HarryJohnston contradictory numbers. The show skimps on details but the galaxies they pass through are supposed to be on the small side with the first few voids brief. No info on the distances. If the big gap at the end was a few million ly that's still a million times c. Even a big galaxy would cross in a couple months then. Small fry like Pegasus, > 2 weeks. Seems if you skirt the supervoids average galactic separations are like the local group aka a few 100k to a few million ly. But then Destiny should've covered much more than 2B ly in only 2k yrs let alone 20M yrs
    – John LA
    Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 8:03

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