Since 1997, and with the help of some comics during Star Wars‘ tenure at Dark Horse Comics, a theory has been floating around regarding the reality of blowing up the second Death Star above Endor’s forest moon. This theory is known as the Endor Holocaust and it doesn’t bode well for the Ewoks (and by extension, the heroes of Star Wars). The short explanation revolves around the shattered remains of the Death Star raining down upon the helpless Ewoks and anybody else on the moon’s surface, essentially killing them all. This is all part of the established canon now and housed snugly with the rest of the Legends content, but that doesn’t mean the canon is realistic.
Tech Insider had a group of physicists look at the real data surrounding the destruction of the Death Star above Endor and what it means for the surface dwellers. Tech Insider based it around Purdue University’s Dave Minton’s research on the topic, using this 3D schematic shown in the film to provide a real life answer to the question.
Minton lays out his discoveries in plain detail for Tech Insider:
His calculations show that the Death Star II is about 213 miles in diameter.
Since Ewoks, storm troopers, and rebels move like they do here on Earth, he assumes that the gravity of Endor is the same as our home planet’s and therefore so is its mass. As the moon is much smaller than Earth, however, it’s got to be incredibly dense.
“I estimate that the bulk density of Endor is about 14,350 kg/m3,” Minton wrote in his paper for Tech Insider. “This is more than iron (8000 kg/m3) and less than uranium (19,100 kg/m3), so while the composition of Endor must be quite unusual, it is not impossible.”
With that, the results are actually far more grim than the Endor Holocaust was actually portrayed in the past. Instead of just destroying the Ewoks with falling debris, the entire surface of the planet is destroyed by whatever is left of the Death Star:
“[M]ore or less what happens after the destruction is that the entire mass of the Death Star simply falls onto the location of the shield generator,” he said.
Minton said the falling rubble field would look something like a colossal asteroid striking the Earth…
“The aftermath of this impact would be to obliterate everything on the surface,” he wrote. “No Ewok could withstand an impact of that magnitude.”
All those poor teddy bears! It’s a lot funnier to think of them running away from the falling chunks, like in the comic page below. The idea that it all ends in a flash for everybody on Endor is a bummer. Then again, that’s what science does. Neil deGrasse Tyson is just waiting out in the hall of every science related film, looking forward to ruining it for everybody involved.
“Han Solo’s blood would boil and cook his flesh until he vaporized. He’d be dead before he even knew what happened.”