One of the more common theories held by Star Wars fans is that Starkiller Base, as seen in The Force Awakens, is actually Ilum – and it seems that it is closer to being confirmed than ever.
Ilum was a very important planet for the Jedi Order for thousands of years, being discovered before the Galactic Republic was even formed. The Jedi realized that the planet was rich with kyber crystals – the crystals that power lightsabers – and thus they made sure that the planet remained hidden away in the Unknown Regions. Only the Jedi knew the location, and eventually it became the place of a sacred ritual for younglings. Grand Master Yoda would lead padawans on a mission to the Jedi Temple on Ilum to be tested in order to find their lightsaber crystals.
When the Empire rose to power, however, they began strip-mining Ilum for its kyber crystals, needing large quantities of them to power the Death Star’s turbo laser. This led to the planet being corrupted very soon into the Imperial reign, and the planet suffered as a result; Its resources were drained and its foundations shaken. Former Jedi padawans Ahsoka Tano and Cal Kestis both returned to Ilum during the time of the Empire (though on separate occasions) and observed a formidable Imperial presence, complete with Star Destroyers, troopers, and mining equipment.
And by the time Kestis arrived at the planet, just five years after the fall of the Galactic Republic, the Empire’s mining had borne such an effect on the planet that there was a noticeable trench-like look running across the equator, seen clearly from space. It looked like this:
Looks familiar, doesn’t it? That looks a lot like the foundations of Starkiller Base! Though it’s seen here at a different angle, you can note the similarities.
Now, this doesn’t explicitly confirm that the two are the same, but it’s the strongest evidence yet, as this time we actually see the connection. But ever since we were introduced to Starkiller Base in 2015, it seems that we’ve been getting hints that link the two planets together. For instance, consider what we know:
- Both Ilum and Starkiller Base are snowy planets that share the same climate.
- Both Ilum and Starkiller Base are locations rich in kyber crystals.
- Both Ilum and Starkiller Base were mined by the Empire for kyber crystals.
- Both Ilum and Starkiller Base are in the Unknown Regions.
- Both Ilum and Starkiller Base are located in sector 7G.
- Both Ilum and Starkiller Base 660 kilometers in diameter.
- Both Ilum and Starkiller Base were planets kept secret from the galaxy at large.
- And now, we know that Both Ilum and Starkiller Base had a trench visible from space.
That’s quite a few similarities for it to just be a coincidence, and get the history of Starkiller Base too: the First Order received data from Imperial research facilities about the planet and searched for quite a while to find the planet in the Unknown Regions that was described. So we definitely know that the reason the First Order knew about this planet was because the Empire had records of it and had mined it for kyber crystals… which is exactly what the Empire did to Ilum. And while there were other planets that housed kyber crystals (like Jedha), Ilum is the only one we know of to have this vast of an amount.
This is one of those things that I’m not sure if we’ll get an actually official canonization for a while, but I think the storytellers at Star Wars have made it so obvious that it’s essentially unofficially confirmed. For the two planets to have this much in common – both secret planets, in the exact same sector, being the exact same size, rich in kyber crystals, and mined by the Empire, that look the same from space – is not a coincidence.
We’ve thought this for a while, but the evidence now is even stronger than ever: it sure looks like Starkiller Base is Ilum.
And story-wise, I think that makes a lot of sense, but also provides some interesting implications and history. We know that the First Order basically was continuing what the Empire started so many years ago, but just trying to do it better – and what better way to do that than by continuing the Empire’s efforts on Ilum and continuing the Empire’s Death Star plans by combining them into one? This essentially turned Ilum into a much larger Death Star, and the problem that the Empire ran into with their space station – the laser – would likely be easier solved on Ilum because the planet itself could supply the power from its kyber crystals. Additionally, it would explain why in Resistance we see what looks to have been test attempts at carving out the canon on other planets, as the First Order wouldn’t want to do it on Ilum until they were sure it would work. And consider what it would mean for Ilum itself: the planet that for thousands of years supplied the crystals for the keepers of the peace would be turned into the weapon of mass destruction unleashed on the galaxy.