## 2014-08-17

### Jedi Crash and Space ECQOs

So I've been seeing some really strange claims about "Jedi Crash"[TCW1] lately.

Basically, a Republic Frigate crashes on a planet, hence the episode title.  To get to that point, however, the ship seemingly hyperdrives almost into a star then comes out of hyperspace, whips around it, and only then meets the planet.

The strange claims are numerous, but let's deal with a few parts first.

Claim 1.  The ship was traveling at relativistic speeds between the star and the planet.

This claim is based on the fact that there is one continuous shot from the ship coming from behind the sun to the ship and planet being visible in the same frame.   Thus, it is argued, the ship must've traveled from the vicinity of the sun to the habitable zone of the solar system in the time of that scene.

Of course, since the scene is only four seconds in length, and in the case of our solar system the habitable zone is around eight light-minutes away, some bright spark got the idea to claim relativistic velocities so as to enable this time compression.  Thus, the trip "really did" take eight and a half minutes (assuming an Earth-like solar system), but it only seemed like four seconds to the people in the ship.

How fast would that be?  Well, the time for light to reach Earth from the Sun averages about 8 minutes and 20 seconds, or 500 seconds.  But if 500 seconds seems like only 4 seconds to the people on the ship, then they must be moving at a rate sufficient to cause time's rate of passage to alter by 125 times or so.

Doing the math, that works out to about 0.999968c for an average velocity.

So, this is all very clever.   However, it is also insane.  I can say that because the ship was seen to crash with an impact velocity measurable in the dozens or low hundreds of meters per second range.

So we would have to presume one of the following:
1.  The ship was at 0.999968c or thereabouts until hitting the planet's atmosphere.
This doesn't work out too well, since even if we assume that somehow the atmosphere was thick enough to stop the ship in the required amount of time, it would still involve a huge amount of kinetic energy being dumped into it.   A Republic frigate is basically an upgunned Republic space cruiser, so we can guesstimate a mass somewhere in the 10,000 to 20,000 tonne range.    Even ignoring relativistic considerations, the kinetic energy of the ship moving at even .75c would be a minimum of 60 teratons.  (That's 10,000,000 kilograms at 224,844,343.5 meters per second, resulting in about 2.53E23J.)
Even if we treated it like a meteor and recognized that this 60 teratons would be spread out along the entire flight path (over, say, 30 kilometers of worthwhile atmosphere), that would still be about two teratons per linear kilometer, which just doesn't fly.  A teraton is a million frickin' megatons, and two teratons per linear kilometer would be the equivalent of 125,000,000 Hiroshimas per kilometer.
Instead, what we actually see is undisturbed clouds and atmosphere along the ship's path, a path highlighted, not by nuclear effects, but by a boring smoke trail left behind as the damaged ship passes.

2.  The ship was decelerating for the entire voyage from the star and only just barely failed to stop.
You're moving at almost lightspeed and decelerate to almost zero, but you can't stop?   Really?   And you can't even do anything to avoid hitting the planet?  Really?
No, sorry.
And don't forget here that trajectories in a gravitational field are usually curved . . . if you've ever played a game involving orbital trajectories (or even a decent artillery game) you know that the speed can determine the final placement as much as the direction can.   All you'd have to do to avoid the planet is quit decelerating before you're on top of it.
So basically, that whole idea is broken on its very face.  We must literally assume an intentional crash, which hardly makes sense in context.  It is completely ludicrous to suggest that the crash was necessary or prudent if they had the capacity to avoid it.  Ergo, they couldn't avoid it, ergo they could not accelerate or decelerate to prevent it, ergo they did not accelerate to a hair away from light-speed for two seconds then slow down only enough to gently crash, because if they could do that then they could have just stopped, or even hovered, et cetera.

But wait!   It gets worse.   First, once the planet comes into frame, it is many thousands of kilometers away, and unlike a planet being approached at a significant fraction of lightspeed (what, you thought that was just random?) it gives the appearance of being stationary, with no closing speed evident.

So, any near-lightspeed velocity must've been confined to the three seconds prior to that.   Oh, well, except we can also see the sun for a few frames, and it isn't receding at near-lightspeed either.

Oops.

Of course, there are almost exactly three seconds of time in which the sun is not visible and the planet has not yet come into frame.   One could argue that the ship accelerated and then decelerated, but then there's that whole crash thing again.

Oops.

So how fast was the ship really going?

Well, there are different ways of estimating it.   One technique might be to simply check the planet's rate of apparent size change in a scene about five seconds after the planet initially comes into view . . . Ahsoka notes they're going to crash into the planet, at which point we see the planet looming in the window.

The shot lasts about three seconds. As with the approach at lightspeed above, I chose to roughly model this in Celestia.  Of course, all the same caveats apply, but even moreso since we're trying to match an existing scene.

Unfortunately, after many hours spent driving around in Celestia approaching Earth with the window at half-transparency and the real second or two scene from Jedi Crash looping in the background, I was forced to give up. It's tough to do, not simply because the camera is shaking or because Celestia is somewhat ill-suited to this particular task, what with not having the finest control of speed or direction.   It's tough because, although I can match the curvature change to some extent, I cannot simultaneously match the motion of the cloud formation on the left which suggests a low range.   Even when I switched to Mars I couldn't get a satisfactory result.   I finally concluded that the shot is obviously zoomed compared to prior shots of folks in the cockpit, or otherwise has issues.  The only alternative is that the planet itself is tiny.

This means that at best I can only guesstimate based on a range of possible matches . . . and this refers to much more than the usual guesstimation level.

Suffice it to say that if the planet is Earth-sized then the vessel was probably a few thousand kilometers away from the planet and traveling at dozens of kilometers per second.

(The ship crashed 14 seconds after the end of the scene, but we know there's missing time.  Why?  Because we go from the bridge shot of the looming planet immediately to a shot of the ship completely engulfed in re-entry flames, and from there to a shot of the bridge showing re-entry plasma in the window.

Of course, in the Brian Young universe where a ship taking off and then being seen in space equals INSTANT UBER-ACCELERATION, the concept of missing time might be debated, but whatever.)

But, this gives us at least an extremely rough guide, and tells us that either (a) the ship passes next to a star then suddenly accelerates to near-lightspeed for no good reason and then decelerates from it in time to crash rather gingerly into a planet ('gingerly' being compared to crashing at near-lightspeed, anyway), or (b) the star and planet aren't very far apart at all.

If the ship had the capacity to accelerate in such a fashion, striking the planet wouldn't have occurred.  The merest touch of the proverbial accelerator pedal and an attitude control thruster would've allowed them to peel away from the planet fairly readily.

Thus, it seems clear to me that the planet and its stellar neighbor weren't very far apart.  And, given that this would be remarkably unhealthy in most cases, we would have to posit that the star itself was exceptionally dim or otherwise non-Sol-like.

The only alternative is that we ignore the shot of the sun with the ship emerging from behind it.   But that brings us to another claim.

Claim 2.  The Republic Frigate survived a solar corona transit, proving remarkable durability

Following on from the above, the so-called star was not very Sol-like.  As it happens, this is fairly easily demonstrable.  How so?   Well, the star here is presented as absurdly tiny.

Unlike our own sun which is approximately 1.4 million kilometers across, meaning that a 115 meter ship sitting near it wouldn't even show up at the craziest of zoom levels, this so-called star is sufficiently tiny that it is only about 60 times larger than the Republic Frigate that goes behind it.

In other words, the entire star is only a handful of kilometers across, something like seven kilometers wide.  We can safely call it less than ten.

This is readily provable via another tack, as well.    Note that the cockpit invariably gets pretty hard shadows on it.  Indeed, there's even a whole scene seemingly dedicated to showing the hard shadows circling around the control panel as the lights on it came on and Ahsoka could finally act.  When she does, the scene shows her from the cockpit floor showing the hard shadows circling around her, as well, until the light source is behind them.

Hard shadows simply would not be the case if you were close to a real sun, because you'd be receiving light from almost 180 degrees of the sky all around you, rather than a distant point source.

Clearly, this makes little sense from any realism-oriented standpoint.    Either it was a full-size star which the ship did not come very close to (which requires that we ignore the scene of the ship emerging from behind it completely, as well as assuming that the scales here in the going-behind-it shot are simply wrong or gravitationally-lensed or something), or else it was a tiny star.

Unfortunately, the precedent here is in favor of a tiny star-like object.   Recall, if you will, the mysterious Abregado Object, a very small red-glowing sphere surrounded by a low-pressure atmosphere.   Its tiny size was demonstrable by the debris field and other details.   This object is definitely brighter and perhaps even smaller, but fits the same narrative, however odd it might seem.

Now, we obviously have no precedent for this sort of thing in real life.   Certainly a nuclear-fusion star could not exist at such a tiny size without outside influence . . . without several hundred thousand more kilometers of gas to produce pressure on the interior due to gravity, there's no reason for such a small gasball to have fusion afoot, and a burning ball of tibanna or somesuch hardly makes sense.

Nevertheless, this is the situation we're left with, so other than a tiny black hole that captured a rogue planet or somesuch, I don't have a lot of educated guesses at the moment.   Perhaps there's some other class of compact luminous objects which, if close enough to a planet, can sustain life on it.

As for me, flying close to a ten-kilometer-or-less quasi-stellar object is a bad idea no matter whose ship you're riding on, but certainly we can't claim miraculous resilience from such a peculiar event . . . indeed, we can't claim much of anything.   Given that the ship came partially apart on re-entry a short time later and featured breaking glass or transparisteel upon contact with the ground in a relatively low-velocity impact (compared to lightspeed or other similarly high velocities, anyway), the claim of super-resilience was an odd one to start with.

Those who prefer to ignore the canon in favor of cherry-picked elements of it and mix those with claims of rigorous science will no doubt have issues with the conclusions here, but the first step in any scientific investigation is to observe the universe.   Peculiar as it may seem to our thinking, we must acknowledge that what we observe is an extremely compact quasi-stellar object (an ECQO, if you will) very close to a habitable planet.

To claim otherwise is to suggest that all our powers of observation of the universe in question are suspect, at which point we might as well just start making things up anyway, as our inflationist friends do.

Claim 3.  The Republic Frigate showed great resilience in surviving the crash mostly intact.

Since I was the first to make this claim, I naturally agree . . . it did much better than we might commonly expect.  The structure failed in the engine area and there were assorted broken hull parts and broken transparisteel, but the ship didn't completely break apart on impact, which is quite remarkable.

Smart inflationists would focus on this rather than trying to create hypervelocity events.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Perhaps the star was some sort of white dwarf-like object? That would still be problematic for the size, since white dwarf stars are roughly the size of Earth in diameter (plus a little bit), but not so much as a Sol-like star.

It's also worth noting the rather plain surface features of the star. As you can see here: http://eofdreams.com/data_images/dreams/sun/sun-04.jpg The surface of our own Sun is quite tumultuous, where as the surface of the star-like object Jedi Crash is quite smooth and plain, with apparently a thin layer of uneven gas on the surface.

My guess is that the star in question is the small, dense remnant of a long-dead star's core, that's still glowing hot enough to provide a habitable environment to nearby planets.

Guardian said...

I did a good bit of research on minimal stellar sizes a few months ago when initially pondering this stuff and didn't find anything small enough to be of any great value.

The problem with core remnant ideas and such is that the planet seems to have life on it naturally, and of long standing, and of course it had an atmosphere. These limit our options tremendously in regards to fanciful speculations on how things arrived in that state.

For instance, a star blowing off most of its mass, even over millions of years, would not be expected to result in a happy atmosphere for any previously habitable world. And even if a gas giant like Neptune, currently thought to have something like an Earth-sized rocky body at its core, were to be dragged in to close orbit, yes its gas-giant qualties would be blown away but for it to end up with a breathable atmosphere would be the wildest stroke of luck.

Either way, the simple fact is that the ECQO is way too close to the planet for it to have been a star initially, and given the timeline of events for colonization by the arrogant pacifists even a real working Genesis Device that didn't blow up the planet would scarcely allow for what we saw.

Guardian said...

Just a few extra notes.

1. I didn't go into detail on the acceleration required to drop from 0.999968c to zero in 8.33 minutes, but basically that's going from 299,782,865ish meters per second (a mere 9,500 meters per second or so off from full lightspeed) to zero. That's just shy of 600 kilometers per second squared, or over 61,000g.

Needless to say, that's more than enough to have allowed the ship to stop dead in space or otherwise avoid a low-velocity crash landing. Ergo, it didn't happen that way, for both this and the other reasons provided.

2. Lest desperate detractors try to latch on to the point, let me address it beforehand . . . the angle of the ship's crash is not straight down, thus the 30 kilometers or so of worthwhile atmosphere I reference really ought to be very much greater. The ship's angle upon atmospheric entry and crash is pretty consistent, but rather than do the math all proper-like with accounting for the curvature of the planet or even just employ trig, let's just inflate it and say that the ship will travel through one hundred times more atmosphere than I initially stated. That brings us down to a mere 2 gigatons per linear kilometer, or 125,000 Hiroshimas per linear kilometer.

That still doesn't fly, but I figured I'd throw that out there just in case someone wanted to get too smart by half.

(For reference, however, assuming a 30 degree angle for the ship, the distance only doubles. Even at 15 degrees it only quadruples (not quite, but close enough). S

So, that'd still be something like .5 to 1 teraton per linear kilometer.)

Guardian said...

Oh hey . . . Ex Astris Scientia is doing the TNG-R observations and recently did "The Masterpiece Society", which reminds me . . . when it comes to hanging around near a compact quasi-stellar object, this flyby doesn't beat the Enterprise-D parking a handful of kilometers away from a neutron star core fragment and dragging it around with a tractor beam just to show off to the arrogant fartcatchers of Moab IV:

http://www.ex-astris-scientia.org/observations/themasterpiecesociety.htm

I suppose, though, that if we are trying to pretend the universes are the same, then this does provide precedent for naturally occurring tiny quasi-stellar objects . . . and indeed, a small neutron star would fit the bill size-wise, but I really wouldn't expect a happy planet hundreds or thousands of kilometers away. The gravitational differential would be hellacious.

Also, the dull yellow star we see in "Jedi Crash" would need to be surrounded by gas or debris or something for that whole thing to work, I would think, not to mention the whole aspect of the world being stable enough to have an atmosphere and life develop on it.