Thursday, April 8, 2010

Solution #2: The Maw Black Hole Cluster

Yep. The Maw Black Hole Cluster. That stable black hole mother is the good ol' Solution number 2 for the Millennium Falcon dilemma.

Okay, so this is a solution that was created by Star Wars enthusiast, fan fiction author and probable virgin* Kevin Anderson. The dude wrote the Jedi Academy Trilogy in 1994, and in it he describes the Kessel Run in vivid detail.

According to Anderson the Kessel Run is a route from Kessel to the area south (let's say Space South) of the Si'Klaata Cluster. He claims that the run, normally around 18 parsecs, is a dangerous one because of numerous imperial star destroyers and this nefarious being known as the Maw: a Black Hole Cluster.

Now, the Maw is supposedly a relatively stable cluster of black holes built by an alien race to harness energy, but they're still fucking black holes, so if you get too close to those buggers you're going to get sucked in and spit out probably in a J.J. Abrams movie... SO a ship that can fly close to the black hole cluster but still have the speed to escape the event horizon is going to be a much faster ship. And considering that the closer you fly to the cluster the faster you have to go, it makes sense that Han Solo would boast "It's fast enough for you old man." The Millennium Falcon had to have been going like Mach 40 or some other speed that would make a ridiculously dangerous gillette razor for it to escape. It solves Han Solo's seemingly odd speed claim about a measurable distance, and also takes into a count the speed of the ship.

Well... seems like everything is wrapped up all nice and...



What the fuck is a stable Black Hole Cluster? There's only one black hole cluster ever reported in space and that thing is more volatile than Rip Torn after he's had a few and as dangerous as hoping your audience will get a joke about a piece of celebrity gossip that pretty much died down last month. It's also highly radioactive and is found at the center of a galaxy. I don't buy that there's an area where dozens of black holes (that can potentially rip the shit out of space ships) just hang out and their gravitational pulls and radiation are all nice and in harmony. NOT BUYING IT KEVIN ANDERSON!

Also, the Kessel Run is a trip from Kessel to the area south of Si'Klaata? Space south? Like... space South? That doesn't make any freaking sense. Luckily for them if they get there slightly Space North they can take Space 1-95 down a few Space States.

Also, okay I buy a ship getting ridiculously close to a black hole and not breaking apart. Metal is fucking metal, I can't break it. But I can cut a son-of-a-bitch. And man can only handle like 10 times the gravitational pull of the Earth IF HE'S LUCKY! So there are several limitations to how close Han could really get. Wookies I have no primary documents for.

Long story short, this is a silly theory. It is for people who don't want to believe in science.


*I know what you're thinking... but I'm just a [virgin].


  1. dude! thank you. i am a physics teacher and hadn't considered many of the points you made here. i just considered what i had read at

    so, the maw cluster of black hole is a cluster of black holes created by a race around their planet? well dude, if you need a spaceship as fast as the millenium falcon to drive around it at a fast enough velocity to not get sucked in, then any planet that is relatively nearby is screwed.

    agreed, a silly theory it is. i say all the theories are just efforts to rationalize a mistake they made.

  2. I can't really see this as a propper debunking. The maw cluster is a bit unbelievable, but not enough to rule it out completely.
    We don't know enough detail, or orbital parameters for objects in the maw cluster. We don't know the time scale on which they are being considered "stable" We are also working with the entirely fictional technologies, and physics of hyperspace in starwars.

    Black holes obey the same gravitational laws as that set the orbits of planets and stars. I'd rather not write about it in full details as it's not hard to find explanations online. But basically, if one object is moving fasr enough relative to another(say a ship moving above a planet), it will escape that object's gravitational pull, and fly away. If it is too slow, gravity will pull the objects together, or in other words, one crashes into the other. If the speed is somewhere between the two, it will neither crash or escape, and instead moves around the planet.
    This is a very simple explanation, which neglects the direction of travel, and doesn't cover interaction between multiple objects of similar gravitational strength, but it will do.

    If this super advanced aliens race had the technology to set the masses of the black holes, and set them on the right orbital paths, I don't see why they couldn't compute a configuration that was relatively stable.

    In space, stability is relative. These black holes will experience a small gravitational influence from the rest of the galaxy, which may pull them away from the stable configuration. But this could take tens of thousands, or even millions of years. I'd say sooner, rather than later, but starwars EU stuff suggests otherwise. Perhaps the aliens really knew their stuff?

    The last thing, starwars hyperspace follows some weird, ill defined rules. But one thing that is fairly consistent is strong gravity messes with it. It's not about not getting "sucked in" It's about not having your ship come apart, due to some hyperspace weirdness. Stronger hyperdrives do slightly better than weaker ones. An image in the starwars cutaway talks about part of the falcon's hyperdrive "controlling the Warp of space around it", so this makes sense- better hyperdrive, the easier it is to deal with the bent space-time produced by gravity. It's not about not getting "sucked in", or even extreme tidal forces- strong gravity breaks down a ship's hyperspace Warp in a way that makes it disintegrate.

    Also, starwars technobables away the problems of high acceleration and high gravity with "acceleration compensators", gravity technology which creates gravitational feilds opposing the forces, to keep occupants and cargo safe.
    Plus, that kind of issue might not even apply in hyperspace.

    So, yeah. I like the maw version. It builds a whole load of intersting stuff over what started as an incorrect use of terminology.

    Also, yeah. Space south. A convention established in that galaxy to make locations easier to describe.

    (I haven't read that book recently, and know one thing that could completely ruin this point. If the back holes are close enough together, the velocities required for stable orbits will approach the speed of light, or even exceed it. That would push believability even for me.)

    (BTW, lightspeed is about mach 880,9910, rather than 40.)