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Why The Skywalker Twins Aren’t the Same Age Anymore

Star Wars needs a warp drive.

Even in a galaxy a long, long time ago, time matters. More specifically, if you are planning to fight a galactic empire, you’ll need to traverse space quickly, and therefore time becomes a resource.

According to Einstein’s theory of relativity, when you move really, really fast, time slows down for you. It’s called time dilation, and it means that even if you are moving at lightspeed, a trip to Cloudcity ages the universe around you to the point where twins born at the same time have had a different number of birthdays.

According to calculations in a paper from the Journal of Interdisciplinary Science Topics — published by geeky physics students at the University of Leicester — time dilation means that the Skywalker twins cannot possibly be the same age anymore.

The paper gives an example from The Empire Strikes Back:

“Consider the separate journeys that both twins make to Cloud City. Leia travels from the neighbouring system of Anoat, while Luke travels from the much more distant planet Dagobah. Luke’s journey was ~7 days travel in his own reference frame, which was estimated to be 25 times longer than Leia’s, making her journey 0.28 days (6.72 hours) in her own reference frame.”

If Leia, in the Millennium Falcon, is traveling at 99.999% the speed of light* and Luke is traveling in an X-wing at 99.995% (the small difference matters a lot), then during Leia’s 7-hour trip the galaxy ages 62.6 days, and during Luke’s 7-day trip outside observers age 701 days (nearly 2 years). This means that when the twins first see each other on Lando’s floating palace, Luke is now 638 days younger than his twin. Oh, and that also means Darth Vader was waiting at that dinner table for a long, long time.

Relativity extends to everyone in the Star Wars universe, and the twins’ trip to Cloudcity is just one of many relativistic journeys. Each time our heroes must traverse the ‘verse time will act funny. It even gets to the point where if Han Solo did just one Kessel run, he would be chronologically older than Obi Wan Kenobi when he meets him in A New Hopebecause science.

*In the Star Wars franchise we hear that ships can go “0.5 past lightspeed,” but there is only so much physics you can break (without a Star Trek-style warp drive). As far as we know, the speed of light is the universe’s speed limit.

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  1. Speedy says:

    I wander what would happen if they were talking to each other from different ships while traveling different speeds. One would sound slowmo and one like a chipmunk 

  2. DarthJay says:

    Stop ruining things with science!!!

  3. RaZhor says:

    It’s a movie.

  4. kluu says:

    No, they would still possibly be like a wormhole. The hole needs to be plotted where it opens and where it comes out and you don’t want to be coming out too close to a sun, etc…

  5. kluu says:

    This was an offhand remark thrown out in the first movie that kinda makes no sense but I have suggested that it means that the ship can travel up to half the speed of light once they are in hyperspace, thus past light speed.

  6. SecondTalon says:

    Don’t worry about it.  To use the vernacular of the time, Kyle Hill is a “frckn Casual” and doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  7. wordsmithy says:

    i’m not arguing with you, but fyi it’s a galaxy far far away – not the milky way. 

  8. kane says:

    I’ll take your version as fact when you come back from an alternate dimension.