What Light Speed Really Looks Like
Kyle Maxey posted on January 16, 2013 | 5475 views

Star Wars’ classic hyperspace effect is an iconic image, but does it really capture the experience of flying faster thanlight? According to students at the University of Leicester, no.

In a recently released paper, four physics students –Riley Connors, Katie Dexter, Joshua Argyle and Cameron Scoular - contend that, rather than seeing stars streak past the Millenium Falcon, Han and Chewie would “observe a central disc of aberrated radiation, whereby the frequencies are all blue-shifted…”

The team concluded that once the hyper drive was engaged, the Doppler Effect would shorten the wavelengths of the oncoming star’s visible light to the point that they would be shifted into the X-ray end of the spectrum.

By removing all of the stellar light, passengers aboard the Falcon would “simply see a central disc of bright light as Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation is shifted into the visible spectrum.”

So what exactly would a disc of Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation look like? Presumably a bit like this:

Accurate or not, though, those streaks of light will be something I always picture when dreaming of traveling faster than the speed of light.

Images Courtesy of the University of Leicester

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