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In Revenge of the Sith, Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Palpatine are trapped by a ray shield on the Separatist ship the Invisible Hand:

enter image description here

It is specifically called it a "ray shield" by multiple characters:

60 INT. BRIDGE-TRADE FEDERATION CRUISER

BODYGUARD: General, we found the Jedi. They're in hallway 328.

GENERAL GRIEVOUS: Activate ray shields.

61 INT. HALLWAY-TRADE FEDERATION CRUISER

They run down the hallway. Suddenly, ray shields drop around them, putting them in an electronic box in the middle of the hallway.

ANAKIN: Ray shields!

However, ray shields are (usually) only capable of stopping energy like blaster bolts. To physically block an object you need a particle shield.

The fact that ray shields do not block physical objects is supported by the (fully canon) Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode "Landing at Point Rain", in which Anakin was seeing running through a ray shield along with clone troopers1:

enter image description here

This shield is described as a ray shield in the episode description:

...On Geonosis, Separatist leader Poggle the Lesser, safe in his newly ray-shielded factories, creates thousands of terrible new weapons which march off the assembly line against the outnumbered clone army...

Ray shields' inability to block physical objects is also supported as a major plot point in A New Hope during the Battle of Yavin briefing:

DODONNA: The target area is only two meters wide. It's a small thermal exhaust port, right below the main port. The shaft leads directly to the reactor system. A precise hit will start a chain reaction which should destroy the station. Only a precise hit will set up a chain reaction. The shaft is ray-shielded, so you'll have to use proton torpedoes.

The Rebels needed to use proton torpedoes (as opposed to, say, the X-Wing's four blaster cannons) because proton torpedoes are physical objects:

enter image description here

MG7-A proton torpedo

Hence, the Death Star was only destroyed because its ray shielded thermal exhaust port was vulnerable to physical proton torpedoes.

How were Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Palpatine physically impeded by the Separatist ray shield when the plot in two other canon sources depended on ray shields' inability to block physical objects (including humans)?

Note that this question is not tagged with -- I have provisionally accepted the Legends answer, but I am still looking for a canon answer.


1 GIF taken from 15:44 of this Youtube video.

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    Hand wavium forgetism... Basically it had been such a long time between the 2 movies that they forgot they had used the term "ray shield" and given it X definition. Alternatively, attention spans had shrunk drastically between the 2 movies so they decided "ray shield" worked better then "particle shield" because who doesn't like rays? and it takes less time to say. – Ryan Aug 12 '15 at 17:16
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    Maybe ray shielding works better on human flesh than on torpedoes? – Max Aug 12 '15 at 17:41
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    Actually reading the quote directly and the page on wookipedia it looks like they are never explicitly defined as only blocking physical objects. Seems the actual functionality wasn't ever defined more explicitly then "they can be broken by proton torpedoes". – Ryan Aug 12 '15 at 18:07
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    @ryan, this exact lack of specific information on the technology is why it's often easy for me to classify Star Wars as science fantasy instead of science fiction in many (but certainly not all) instances. – Broots Waymb Aug 12 '15 at 20:32
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    Part B - If they are magnetic shields, not plasma windows, then that could explain why they can stop blaster bolts but not proton torpedos whose exteriors are presumably electrically neutral. If the proton ordinance was shielded then the magnetic fields wouldn't be able to interact with it and thus it could pass through/around them. But I don't know exactly how proton torpedos work, and this is all very handwavey. – Phyneas Aug 12 '15 at 21:29
9

Okay so I did some googling and this is what I came up with from the starwars.wikia.com on deflector shields themselves not either of the 'sub-shields'.

Ray shields were also used as capture devices onboard capital ships; Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and Supreme Chancellor Palpatine were caught in a ray shield trap onboard Invisible Hand. Although designed to counter energy attacks, the energy given off by the ray shield would likely have disintegrated the Jedi duo had they attempted to pass through it.

Which fits in the behavior we have observed in the movies (obviously). Like I stated in my comment, in the original 3 movies the only definition given to a ray shields functionality is that it can be broken by proton torpedoes. That's it. So any behavior we see applied to them in later movies that doesn't directly contradict the "can be broken with proton torpedoes" rule we have to accept as acceptable behavior. Because that's what cannon is saying it can do.

To go along with this (this was the best clip I could find)

we can clearly see that they don't try to touch it and tend to not move much at all. Which seems to support the line "would likely have disintegrated them."

Edit: (start)

So after reading here, here and following and reading a bunch of links from this page, and links on this page I've come up with this LEGENDS answer.

Ray/Energy shields are meant to deflect energy from blaster bolts. They are different from Particle shields in that they always allow physical objects to pass through them. However the radiation/electrostatic energy coming off a ray shield can be anywhere from annoying to deadly for organic matter.

Also the strength of a ray shield seems to be in "how much energy can I absorb before my circuits overload" not "how strong is the field I project". This is what made ray-shields useful as capture devices. They can be used anywhere without worry of suffocating your captured victim (which a particle shield would do as it inhibits all particles from crossing it's barrier), and still act as effective movement inhibitors because a strongly projected ray shield would be deadly to organic captives.

This leads to the following 2 scenarios pictured in the question. A weakly projected large shield on Geonosis capable of absorbing lots of energy but also capable of allowing clones/Geonosians to pass through it. And a much smaller but much more strongly projected capture field on the capital ship which would have allowed the Jedi/chancellor to pass but would have killed them in the process.

(End edit)

Out of universe I'll go back to my first comment:

Hand wavium forgetism... Basically it had been such a long time between the 2 movies that they forgot they had used the term "ray shield" and given it X definition. Alternatively, attention spans had shrunk drastically between the 2 movies so they decided "ray shield" worked better then "particle shield" because who doesn't like rays? and it takes less time to say.

  • The "disintegration" argument seems plausible, although it's unfortunately unsourced so it's anyone's guess who originally wrote that. +1 for the find, though. And, yes, your out-of-universe answer is the one I suspect is the real reason. – Null Aug 12 '15 at 20:47
  • I found an example from The Clone Wars TV series where Anakin was able to pass through a ray shield wearing much the same clothes, so the "disintegration" argument can only stand by hand-waving that they're different kinds of ray shields or something. (Not your fault -- I think this was a screw-up in the Episode III script.) – Null Aug 13 '15 at 17:13
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    I would argue that the strength and/or nature of the ray shield affects its secondary properties. The Second Battle of Geonosis is not the first set of battlefield scale ray shields to be penetrated. The Trade Federation could walk through Gungan ray shields too, although in that case Gungan shields had more elastic resistance than Geonosian ones. – thegreatjedi Mar 31 '16 at 16:25
  • I'm inclined to believe, just like blaster bolts of different colours, that shields can be created using different technologies. Ray shields of different natures could be differently resistant to physical objects, and differently lethal too. Perhaps some ray shields double as particle shields, and perhaps some have no physical impedance at all. Let's not forget the shields that divided Obi-Wan, Qui-Gonn and Maul - those are definitely ray and particle shielded. – thegreatjedi Mar 31 '16 at 16:31
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It doesn't actually say that they can't block physical objects. In fact, there is documented use of ray shields to imprison people; Ahsoka Tano was restrained by Cad Bane with one, and the Republic used them to house prisoners in their base on Coruscant.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    Well, my question has a documented use of ray shields to imprison people... The question is: how could a "ray shield" imprison a person yet it is specifically unable to block a (physical) proton torpedo? I don't see how this answers that question. – Null Aug 12 '15 at 20:05
  • @Null - Because nowhere in the accepted canon does it say that a ray shield blocks physical objects. – Valorum Aug 12 '15 at 20:11
  • @Richard Did you mean "nowhere...does it say that a ray shield doesn't block physical objects"? Because my assumption is that it doesn't block physical objects. – Null Aug 12 '15 at 20:20
  • @Null - That's what I meant. All we know from the original film is that they block blasters (somehow) and that Photon torpedoes can penetrate them. That's it. Everything else comes from non-canon sources like the various technical books. – Valorum Aug 12 '15 at 20:23
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    @Null - Not so much sloppy as simply ill-defined. Like most mature technologies, people in-universe don't feel the need to describe it since they're used to it. – Valorum Aug 12 '15 at 20:39
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A potential physical explanation could be that ray shields may interact with different types of matter based upon the frequency of their emission. That would explain why they interact with solid matter and plasma differently.

-1

Going on from ryan's answer could it have been where they use different concentration of the rays i.e a lower concentration would stop Laser beams and a high could stop physical objects?

After doing a bit of Wiki search I found this:

Although designed to counter energy attacks, the energy given off by the ray shield would likely have disintegrated the Jedi duo had they attempted to pass through it.

ALSO I found the answer!

Here

However, Rex is able to get through one's shields and shoot it, while Anakin hacked the other.

and here

Anakin and Ahsoka lead the charge, throwing EMP grenades that disable the enemy cannons, enabling the AT-TEs to destroy the shield generator.

Source: Here and Here

  • don't post new answers to reply to others. that's what comments are for. – phantom42 Aug 14 '15 at 12:36
  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post. – phantom42 Aug 14 '15 at 12:36
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    I would have commented however I have insufficient points to doo so this was they only way I could say what I wanted to say. Sorry – Shaun 'Prawn185 Moore Aug 14 '15 at 12:46
  • The other answer is essentially guessing in-universe as well, so this is a possible answer. To improve it, though, we'd need to see some evidence of shields (particularly ray shields) using different "concentrations". – Null Aug 14 '15 at 13:36
  • I've Edited my main post :D – Shaun 'Prawn185 Moore Aug 14 '15 at 15:16

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