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Was Han Solo Wrong About Hyperspace?

In the Star Wars universe, so-called “hyperspace” is used to get around a number of obstacles — distance, time dilation, capital ships not split in half…but jumping to hyperspace apparently cannot get around the importance of where you punch it. Early in A New Hope, Han Solo tells us that without precise calculations, a random jump could put you through a star or inside a supernova, and that really would end your trip real quick. Was the rogue right? Is a random path through space really that dangerous?

In my latest episode of Because Science, I’m charting a course through the evaluation of an over 40-year-old quote. Han Solo’s words in that Episode IV specific scene were:

Traveling through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops, boy! Without precise calculations we could fly right through a star or bounce too close to a supernova and that’d end your trip real quick, wouldn’t it?

Let’s take those words seriously, and challenge them with science! Space is the vastest vastness, dotted only sparsely with matter. If we chose a random, straight-line path through a section of space, what would the real odds of hitting anything star-sized be, even is Han doesn’t want to hear them?

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