We asked a physicist if Han Solo and Chewbacca's ship could really travel faster than the speed of light, here’s what we found.

SeekerPublished: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018
Published: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018

Have you heard of the Millennium Falcon? The ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. Nevermind the mistaken parlance, just how fast is the spacecraft? The laws of physics should still apply, even to Han Solo. So based on our physics, could the Falcon actually travel at the speed of light?

The special theory of relativity has shown the faster we travel: one the slower time moves for us, and teo the more mass we gain. So a ship travelling at, quote, “point five past light speed” would have huge mass and require extreme energies to accelerate and decelerate. Plus, even at 1.5 times the speed of light, planets and stars are really far apart. Even if 0.5 is 1.5 times the speed of light it would still take five and a half minutes to go from the sun to earth and, even at its closest, 2 hours and 45 minutes to get to Pluto.

If you could actually travel the speed of light, even for a minute, it wouldn’t look all like Star Wars represents it. A study from 2013 did the math, and in reality you’d see a blur. The Doppler effect comes into play. Doppler shift means as you go faster, waves of energy appear to shorten. So the screech of a Tie Fighter or ambulance is higher as it approaches you than after it passes you. This blue shift would turn visible light into the x-ray range, and the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (the super dim leftover light from the Big Bang that permeates the universe) would be accelerated to the point of being visible. But this is impossible, based on our physics.

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