Disney/Lucasfilm"The Ewoks are dead. All of them."
That's the disturbing first line of a white paper a physicist exclusively submitted to Tech Insider.
With "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" storming movie theaters, we had to know if George Lucas overlooked a critical moment where the last film in the series, "Return of the Jedi," left off 32 years ago.
In that movie, a moon-size weapon called the Death Star II orbits the forest moon Endor. The Rebel Alliance eventually blows up the colossal terror device, then celebrates among the trees with a race of hairy, intelligent friends called the Ewoks.
But detonating a giant metal sphere above the Ewok's lush green world is a terrible idea, according to 11 different physicists we asked. In fact, most agreed it'd trigger an "Endor holocaust."
Dave Minton, a planetary scientist at Purdue University and devoted "Star Wars" fan went so far as to provide a draft white paper. (We've embedded it at the end of this post if you want to get right to it.)
The "Endor Holocaust" fan theory dates back to 1997, when it first appeared on a website called TheForce.net. Curtis Saxton, an astrophysicist and "Star Wars" super-fan, argued in a 10,000-word essay that the doom of Endor and the Ewoks who live there "is an inevitable consequence of observable facts."
But many of Saxton's various measurements are open to interpretation, since depictions of the Death Star, Endor, and other details are inconsistent from one scene to the next, which is why we asked 11 physicists what would happen to Endor if the Death Star blew up.
Minton's dire conclusion is based a detailed, to-scale hologram projected in "Return of the Jedi."
From that image Minton extrapolated diameters, masses, velocities, and orbital paths of Endor and the Death Star.
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."
Minton also noted that the Death Star is in a unnaturally stable orbit given how close it is to the moon.
"So I have to assume that the Death Star is being maintained in its position using something like [anti-gravity] repulsorlifts," he wrote.
When the rebels and Ewoks destroy the shield generator on Endor — a device that protected the Death Star — Minton assumes the repulsorlifts there got destroyed, too. He also figures the Death Star is not vaporized and mostly shatters into a field of loose rubble.
"[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.
Striking Endor at more than 6,000 mph, "a Death Star-mass ball of fragments will leave behind a 700 km diameter crater,"Minton said. "This is almost 4 times larger than the Chicxulub crater in Mexico that is associated with the dinosaur extinction."
"The aftermath of this impact would be to obliterate everything on the surface," he wrote. "No Ewok could withstand an impact of that magnitude."
And it gets worse.
"It is likely that the atmosphere would be so heated up ... that every body of water on the entire world would be flash heated to steam, and every forest would ignite into a global firestorm."
Read Minton's full draft white paper here.
Note: If you're a planetary scientist or physicist who can run simulations that test ideas critical to the Endor Holocaust theory, Tech Insider would love to hear from you. Please reach out to us at email@example.com with "Endor Holocaust simulation" as the subject line.