Hyperspace looks nothing like this

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 January, 2013, 4:30am


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Remember that moment in the Star Wars movies when the Millennium Falcon goes into hyperspace and a kaleidoscope of stars streaks past the ship?

Sadly - like a lot of things in sci-fi movies - that really wouldn't happen, a team of British science students have calculated.

Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia would not see any approaching stars as they accelerate through the galaxy because of the Doppler effect, students at the University of Leicester have concluded.

This is the phenomenon by which the wavelength of electromagnetic radiation shortens or lengthens depending on whether the source is nearing or moving away from the person who is perceiving it.

Because the Millennium Falcon is speeding towards the stars, the wavelength of the stellar light would shorten, which means it would move out of the visible part of the energy spectrum and into the X-ray range, the students calculated.

On the other hand, cosmic microwave background radiation - the backwash of radiation from the Big Bang which created the Universe 14 billion years ago - would lengthen in wavelength and suddenly become visible.