The Ewoks are doomed, according to a group of 11 physicists. After the Empire’s second giant superweapon, the Death Star Mark II, exploded near the forest moon of Endor, a series of events would have led to the collapse of their ecosystem and the deaths of the furry, Stormtrooper-fighting teddy bears, as reported by Tech Insider.
The "Star Wars" universe, officially 38 years old this year, is beautifully realized and meticulously constructed, so it should come as no surprise that some scientists and journalists have taken time out of their day jobs to logically address parts of it. How much would it cost to build the Death Star? How would you treat a lightsaber wound? Could the planets themselves actually exist? Now, another question has been academically addressed: What would have happened to the Ewoks on Endor’s moon after the second Death Star was cataclysmically destroyed at the end of "Return of the Jedi"?
Essentially, the problem of the so-called Endor Holocaust comes down to one thing: How much of the moon-sized weapon fell down onto the forest moon after it was seemingly obliterated?
The destruction of the reactor caused the artificial satellite to be destroyed within a second. This means that large chunks of metallic debris would have been ejected at 354,000 kilometers per hour (220,000 miles per hour) – six times quicker than humanity’s fastest spacecraft. “The energy carried by the debris would not be enough to destroy the moon,” Matija Cuk, an orbital dynamics researcher, told Tech Insider, “but it would heavily erode the side facing the Death Star.”
Planetary physicist Erik Asphaug agrees, as he points out that the reactor destruction would not merely vaporize the entire Death Star. “There will be huge chunks of the Death Star raining down on the Ewoks that might make their life unpleasant,” he said. Forest fires started by the irradiated, burning-hot debris could cause a huge ecosystem collapse.
“The Ewoks are dead. All of them,” concluded one particularly grim analysis by David Minton, a planetary scientist. In his four-page white paper sent to Tech Insider, he also assumed there would be plenty of debris left over after the initial explosion, and that the Death Star remnants would begin to fall out of its artificially maintained orbit after both its shield generator and internal structure were destroyed.
Minton considers the explosion to have been far gentler than Cuk, and suggests the debris pieces were moving at just 10,100 kilometers per hour (6,275 miles per hour) before impact. Nevertheless, even at this slower speed, if this debris impacted the moon’s surface simultaneously, it would still leave a crater 700 kilometers (435 miles) wide – nearly four times the size of the Chicxulub crater produced by the dinosaur-killing asteroid impact on Earth.
“The aftermath of this impact would be to obliterate everything on the surface. No Ewok could withstand an impact of that magnitude,” Minton concluded. “Every forest would ignite into a global firestorm.” This also would certainly have annihilated the most important members of the Rebel Alliance celebrating their ultimate victory over the Galactic Empire. Whoops.
It’s safe to assume that since "The Force Awakens" features the return of Han Solo and Leia, the creators of "Return of the Jedi" made the assumption that the second Death Star was completely vaporized upon its destruction.