You all know the scene from The Empire Strikes Back: the dashing Captain Han Solo successfully outwits the crew of the Imperial Star Destroyer Avenger by clamping the Millennium Falcon onto its hull, then drifting away with the rest of the released garbage before the massive ship makes the jump to hyperspace. (They weren't able to outwit the infamous Boba Fett, but that's a different story.)

It looked like that garbage was a lot larger than the components in the Death Star's trash compactors--you can see what looks like whole engines and ships drifting about. My question is: what are these ships floating in the garbage? I'm looking for any Canon or Legends references that indicate the identity of what might be in the Avenger's dumped waste. I've looked online and the closest thing I can find is speculation that they are remains from the Battle of Hoth.

  • Here is the garbage scene, youtube.com/watch?v=f4_tZ6Yd9fs, you can see just how large some of those pieces are. – Jack B Nimble Aug 3 '15 at 14:39
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    Why necessarily assume that they are parts from captured/destroyed ships rather than waste components from the Avenger itself? The components are so large they could only be the components of an extraordinarily large ship, so why not the Avenger? A counter-argument would be, unless they carry a lot of spare parts, they would presumably have had to repair the ship at a yard so why not get rid of their waste then. – Phyneas Aug 3 '15 at 15:00
  • That's true--they could just be broken Avenger parts instead of pieces from other ships. I'm just looking for official confirmation one way or the other. – Marathon to May Aug 3 '15 at 15:03
  • “The Empire Strikes Back”, you say. Not ringing any bells. – Paul D. Waite Aug 3 '15 at 17:59
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    The Millennium Falcon. – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Aug 3 '15 at 19:27

As Phil mentioned in his answer, neither the novel nor script are much help, referring to it only as debris and/or junk:

The hatch on the underbelly of the Avenger yawned open. And as the Imperial galactic cruiser zoomed into hyperspace, it spewed out its own belt of artificial asteroids - garbage and sections of irreparable machinery that scattered out into the black void of space. Hidden among that trail of refuse, the Millennium Falcon tumbled undetected off the side of the larger ship, and was left far behind as the Avenger streaked away.

Safe at last, Han Solo thought.

The Millennium Falcon ignited its ion engines, and raced off through the train of drifting space junk toward another system.

But concealed among that scattered debris was another ship.

Looking at various close-ups of the junk is no help, either. It appears to be a mixture of scrap and engine parts - possibly the "irreparable machinery" mentioned in the novelization.

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However, we can speculate based on what we know:

Star Destroyers, in general, patrol the galaxy and often tractor in ships for inspections. When a ship owner is arrested, their ships are either auctioned off or stripped down. The official reason for this is to pay for the owner's legal fees. We also know from the Legends EU that this particular fleet of Star Destroyers has been travelling all over the hyperspace routes, arresting & interrogating anyone who might know where the Rebels (and particularly Luke Skywalker) are hiding out.

Based on this, we can speculate that the garbage contains at least three things:

  • Large, compacted chunks of smaller garbage from the compactors
  • Engine parts & machinery that cannot be repaired and is not worth recycling
  • Stripped down frames and/or "corpses" of confiscated ships

If it's standard procedure to dump this stuff before going to lightspeed, then we have to assume that the debris has accumulated since the fleet jumped into the Hoth system - possibly the crushed remains of rebel ships. Of course, it's also possible that they skipped the procedure on the earlier jump since Vader was in a hurry.

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    Also might be worth noting that they had just been skirting the edge of a major asteroid belt. The idea that the ship (and it's irreparable equipment) was hit by one or more errant (or non-errant, they did TRY to enter the asteroid field at some point) asteroid to sustain damage that could not be repaired in place seems likely. – Mark Aug 4 '15 at 11:30

The novelisation is the only source I can find that says anything other than 'junk' and/or 'debris', and even that's not very clear:

The hatch on the underbelly of the Avenger yawned open. And as the Imperial galactic cruiser zoomed into hyperspace, it spewed out its' own belt of artificial asteroids - garbage and sections of irreparable machinery that scattered into the black void of space.

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    There was a novel?? – Valorum Aug 3 '15 at 16:02
  • @Richard Yep - the copy I have is this one: amazon.co.uk/Star-Wars-Trilogy-Del-book/dp/0345384385/… – PhilPursglove Aug 3 '15 at 16:06
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    Ooh. I definitely need to read that. – Valorum Aug 3 '15 at 18:12
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    Be warned that some of the dialog may be a bit jarring (I assume it was based on the original screeenplays and so some of the lines that Harrison Ford/Sir Alec Guiness allegedly refused to say are "back") – Foon Aug 4 '15 at 3:03
  • @Foon - I didn't know about the lines you're referencing, but it sounds interesting! So I asked a question about it here: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/97386/… – Matt Aug 4 '15 at 17:07

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