What 'Star Wars' hyperdrive would really look like
London: If it were possible, the reality of interstellar travel would be a lot less spectacular, according to a group of student physicists.
The ‘‘hyperdrive’’ featured in ‘Star Wars’ enables Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon spaceship to take short cuts between stars through a higher dimension of space.
Racing through hyperspace at near light speed, the ship’s crew sees the stars appear to radiate out from a central point and stretch past them, but in reality the view through the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit window would probably consist of a fuzzy luminous fog surrounding a bright central disc.
There would be no sign of stars because the wavelength of their light would be shortened to the invisible X-ray range, says the team of four young scientists from the University of Leicester.
This is due to the Doppler effect – the same effect that causes a police car siren to increase in pitch as it approaches.
The luminous disc would be due to Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation being shifted into the visible part of the light spectrum.
The CMB is radiation left behind by the Big Bang that gave birth to the universe.
As a result of the Doppler shift the spaceship would be bombarded by intense X-rays, exerting a pressure strong enough to slow it down. The ship’s engines would need extra power to overcome this pressure, the calculations suggest.
According to one of the students, Riley Connors, 21, from Milton Keynes, if the Millennium Falcon existed and really could travel that fast, sunglasses would certainly be advisable. On top of this, the ship would need something to protect the crew from harmful X-ray radiation.
Another member of the student team, Joshua Argyle, 22, from Leicester, said that the resultant effects we worked out were based on Einstein’s theory of special relativity, so while we may not be used to them in our daily lives, Han Solo and his crew should certainly understand its implications.
The study has been published in University of Leicester’s Journal of Physics Special Topics.